(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Carolina folk-plays"

GIFT OF 
Glass of 1907 




&_ 



CAROLINA FOLK-PLAYS 



THE PLAYMAKERS AIM 

FIRST: To promote and encourage dramatic art, 
especially by the production and publishing of plays. 

SECOND: To serve as an experimental theatre for 
the development of plays representing the traditions 
and various phases of present-day life of the people. 

THIRD: To extend its influences in the establish 
ment of a native theatre in other communities. 




A PLAY MAKER OF NORTH CAROLINA 
Harold Williamson as JED in his own play, Peggy, a tragedy of the 
tenant farmer. 



CAROLINA 
FOLK-PLAYS 

Edited 
With an Introduction on FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

By 

FREDERICK H. KOCH 
Founder and Director of The Carolina Playmakers 

Illustrated from photographs of the original productions of 
the plays 




NEW YORK 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

1922" 



COPYRIGHT, 1922 

BY 
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 



All of these plays have been successfully produced. 

No royalty is asked for performing rights when no ad 
mission is charged. Otherwise there is a charge of five dol 
lars for each performance by amateurs. Professional actors 
must make special arrangements. 

No performance of these plays may be given without full 
acknowledgment to The Carolina Playmakers, Inc., and to 
the publishers. Acknowledgment should be made to read 
as follows: "From the Carolina Folk-Plays edited by FRED 
ERICK H. KOCH, Director. Produced by arrangement with 
The Carolina Playmakers, Inc., and the publishers." 

For permission to produce any of the plays address FRED 
ERICK H. KOCH, Director, The Carolina Playmakers, Inc., 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

The plays in this volume are not printed so as to indicate 
pronunciation, and can be read or played anywhere, upon 
the terms given on the back of the title page. While it would 
be well, if not too much trouble, for the actors to study the 
hints on pronunciation in the Appendix, still, outside of the 
Carolinas, the parts can be effectively played by actors speak 
ing more or less in the manner of the country folk in what 
ever state the play is being presented. 



First Printing, Nov. 1922 
Second Printing, Feb. 1923 
Third Printing, April, 1924 

PRINTED IN U. S. A. 



TO 

"THE ONLIE BEGETTER" 
E- G. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

AIMS OF THE CAROLINA PLAYMAKERS . . ii 
FOLK-PLAY MAKING xi 

By Frederick H. Koch. 

WHEN WITCHES RIDE, a Play of Carolina Folk 

Superstition 3 

By Elizabeth A. Lay. 

PEGGY, a Tragedy of the Tenant Farmer . . 29 
By Harold Williamson; 

"DoD CAST YE BOTH !" a Comedy of Mountain 

Moonshiners 61 

By Hubert Heffner. 

OFF NAGS HEAD or THE BELL BUOY, a Trag 
edy of the North Carolina Coast ... 91 
By Dougald MacMillan. 

THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 117 

By Paul Greene. 

A Play of the Croatan Outlaws of Robeson County, 
North Carolina. 

APPENDIX: The Language of the Plays . . 149 
By Tom Peete Cross. 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

A PLAYMAKER OF NORTH CAROLINA . Frontispiece 
Harold Williamson in his own play of PEGGY. 

From photograph by Wooton-Moulton 

PAGE 

Program Heading-Picture xi 

By Julius J. Lankes 

Scene from WHEN WITCHES RIDE . Facing 18 

From photograph by Wooton-Moulton 

Scene from PEGGY Facing 54 

From photograph by Ellington 

The last episode in "DoD GAST YE BOTH !" 

Facing 84 

From photograph by Wooton-Moulton 

The Old Woman in OFF NAGS HEAD or 

THE BELL BUOY Facing 96 

From photograph by Wooton-M.ov.ltan 

Scene from LAST OF THE LOWRIES . Facing 140 

From photograph by Wooton-Moulton 




FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

BY FREDERICK H. KOCH 

Founder of The Dakota Playmakers and The 
Carolina Playmakers 

The Carolina Folk-Plays suggest the beginnings of 
a new native theatre. They are pioneer plays of 
North Carolina life. The stories and characters are 
drawn by the writers from their own tradition, and 
from their observation of the lives of their own 
people. 

They are wholly native simple plays of the locality, 
of common experience and of common interest. North 
Carolina is rich in legends and in historical incident; 
she is rich too in the variety and virility of her present- 
day life. There is in these plays something of the tang 
of the Carolina soil. There is something of the isola 
tion of her mountains and their sheltering coves; 
something of the sun and the wind of the farm lands ; 
of the shadowy thickets of Scuffletown Swamp ; some 
thing, too, of the loneliness of the lives of the fisher- 
folk on the shifting banks of Nags Head or Cape 
Lookout. 



xii f, FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

They were written by sons and daughters of Caro 
lina, at Chapel Hill, the seat of the state university. 
They have been produced with enthusiasm and success 
by The Carolina Playmakers in their own town and 
in many towns all over the state. The Carolina Play- 
makers is a group of amateurs amateurs in the original 
and full sense of the word devoted to the establish 
ment of a theatre of cooperative folk-arts. Not a single 
cloth has been painted by an outsider. Everything has 
been designed and made in the home town in a truly 
communal way. 

To be sure they are plays of a single section, of a 
single state, North Carolina. But they have a wider 
significance. We know that if we speak for the human 
nature in our own neighborhood we shall be expressing 
for all. The locality, if it be truly interpreted, is the 
only universal. It has been so in all lasting literature. 
And in every locality all over America, as here in North 
Carolina to-day, there is the need and the striving for a 
fresh expression of our common folk life. 

THE BEGINNINGS IN NORTH DAKOTA 

The North Carolina plays represent the cumulation 
of years of experiment. The beginnings at the Uni 
versity of North Dakota, located at Grand Forks, were 
simple enough. It is now sixteen j^ears since the writer 
made the first "barn-storming" tour, in 1906, over the 
treeless levels of Dakota with a company of University 
players. The play was Richard Brinsley Sheridan s 
admirable comedy, The Rivals, to be followed in sue- 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xiii 

ceeding tours with such old favorites as Goldsmith s 
She Stoops to Conquer, Dickens Tom Pinch, and 
Sheridan Knowles The Love Chase. In this way the 
ground was cleared and made ready for a people s 
drama of sound foundations. 

A remarkable development of dramatic interest fol 
lowed, and an enthusiastic fellowship of players was 
formed. It grew, and became in good time a flourish 
ing society of play-makers The Dakota Playmakers 
pledged to the production of native plays of their prairie 
country. 

Two different types of drama developed naturally 
the pageant, a distinctly communal form enlisting 
actively all the people; and the folk-play, an intimate 
portrayal of the life and character of the people of 
the plains. 

DAKOTA COMMUNAL DRAMA 

In the Dakota pageantry a new form of creative 
literary work was evolved communal authorship. 
The historical Pageant of the North-West in 1914, and 
the tercentenary masque, Shakespeare, The Playmaker, 
in 1916, were designed and written entirely dialogue, 
poetry, and music by a group of these amateur Play- 
makers in collaboration, eighteen in the first case and 
twenty in the second. And the published play-books 
proved that the people themselves, when rightly 
directed, could create their own dramatic forms, in 
phrases "filled with liveliness and humor, and with no 
little imagination" in a cooperative native drama 



xiv FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

"never amateurish and sometimes reaching a high lit 
erary level." l 

Such production required a theatre in the open. 
There was no hill-slope and, by the necessity of the 
prairie land, a new type of native theatre was dis 
covered. So the Bankside Theatre came to be "the 
first open-air theatre to make use of the natural curve 
of a stream to separate the stage from the amphi 
theatre," 1 and a contribution was made of permanent 
value in the history of the out-door stage. 

In succeeding years of this renaissance for such 
indeed it proved to be The Dakota Playmakers car 
ried out over the state their new-found means of 
dramatic expression, directing the country people in 
many parts of North Dakota in the writing and staging 
of pageants and plays of their own local traditions. 

DAKOTA FOLK-PLAYS 

At the same time The Playmakers at the university 
were busy writing for their improvised "Play-Stage" 
a variety of simple folk-plays portraying scenes of ranch 
and farm life, adventures of the frontier settlers, inci 
dents of the cowboy trails. 

Then they toured the state with their new-made 
Prairie Plays using a simple portable stage of their own 
devising. And the people in the towns visited received 
them with wonder and enthusiasm. They knew them 
for their own, and were honestly proud and happy 
about it. Everybody said, "Come again, and we ll give 

i "Dakotan Discoveries in Dual Dramaturgy," by Hiram K. Moder- 
in The Boston Evening Transcript, September 30, 1916. 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xv 

you a bigger audience next time!" The little folk- 
play had found its own. 

Typical of these prairie plays perhaps is Barley 
Beards by Howard DeLong, who was born of French 
homesteaders in a sod shanty forty miles from the rail 
road. Barley Beards deals with an I. W. W. riot in 
a North Dakota threshing crew and is based on young 
DeLong s experiences on a Dakota wheat farm at 
harvest time. The author himself designed and painted 
the scenery, and acted a leading part in his play. 

Other one-act pieces of this type are : Back on the 
Old Farm by Arthur Cloetingh, suggesting the futility 
of the "high-brow" education when it goes back to the 
country home at Long Prairie ; Dakota Dick, by Harold 
Wylie, a comedy of the Bad Lands of the frontier days ; 
and Me an Bill, by Ben Sherman of Judith Basin, 
Montana, a tragedy of the "loony" sheep-herder, well- 
known to the playwright, and his love of the lonely 
shepherd s life on the great plains: 

"You are out there on the plains, under the blue 
sky, with the soft winds a-singin songs to you. Free 
God, but you re free! You get up in the morning to 
meet the sun; you throw out your arms, breathe into 
your lungs life; and it makes you live it makes you 
live! It is the same feelin He had. He wanted to 
live for his sheep. (Then addressing his spectral dog 
he chuckles to himself.) Did you catch him, Shep?" 

Full of the poetry of the North-West country are 
the words of Tim Nolan in the romance of the old 
Irish pioneer in For the Colleen by Agnes O Connor : 



xvi FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

"Hers was the face that Vd haunt the heart and 
the dreams of such a lonely Irish lad as Tim Nolan 
was, on the big prairie. And I began to work my 
claim as I d never done before dreamin all the time 
of a little home. Just a wee house with a white picket 
fence around it with wild roses growin everywhere. 
Just Mary and me, and the green of the grass, and the 
spring winds blowin fresh, and the meadow-lark 
singinV 

Such are the country folk-plays of Dakota simple 
plays, sometimes crude, but always near to the good, 
strong, wind-swept soil. They tell of the long bitter 
winters in the little sod shanty. But they sing too of 
the springtime of unflecked sunshine, of the wilder 
ness gay with wild roses, of the fenceless fields welling 
over with lark song! They are plays of the travail 
and the achievement of a pioneer people. 

THE CAROLINA PLAYMAKERS 

The work of The Dakota Playmakers was noted in 
various parts of the country. In North Carolina, Dr. 
Edwin Greenlaw, Head of the Department of Eng 
lish in the state university, saw a rich field for the 
making of a native folk drama. His insight and con 
tinuing loyalty have made possible the remarkable 
growth of the idea there. 

North Carolina extends more than five hundred 
miles from the Great Smoky Mountains on the western 
border to the treacherous shoals of Hatteras. In the 
backlands of these mountains and among the dunes of 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xvii 

the shifting coast line may be found "neighborhoods" 
where the customs of the first English settlers still pre 
vail, where folk-tales still survive in words and phrase 
long since obsolete to us, handed down by word of 
mouth from one generation to another through all the 
years of their isolation. 

And in North Carolina, too, we have the ballads 
and the lore of an outlived past side by side with the 
new life of the present day. Here are still the fine old 
families of the first Cavaliers and the children of the 
plantation days of the Old South. In contrast with 
these is the dreary "one-horse" farm of the poor white 
tenant and the shiftless negro. In greater contrast, per 
haps, is the toil of the thousands of workers at the roar 
ing mills. 

North Carolina is still without large cities, and a 
strong folk-consciousness persists. The State is still 
regarded by the people as a family of "folks," due to 
the fact that the population is almost pure Anglo Saxon 
and still remarkably homogeneous. For all the changing 
industrial conditions less than two per cent of the 
inhabitants of the State are of foreign birth or par 
entage. Here the home talents are still cherished as 
a means of genuine enjoyment. The people have not 
broken their connections with the big family of the 
country folks. They have retained their birthright of 
pleasure in simple things. It is not strange that from 
such a spirit of neighborliness a native drama should 
spring. 

A new fellowship of Playmakers came naturally in 



xviii FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

the fall of 1918. There was no formal organization 
at first. Membership in The Carolina Playmakers was 
open to all. Anyone who did anything toward the 
making of a play was counted a Playmaker. It was 
truly a society of amateurs in cooperative folk-arts. 

Already a wide range of original folk-plays have 
come. They were written in the University course in 
Dramatic Composition, and produced by The Play- 
makers on a home-made stage, constructed by them 
for the purpose, in the auditorium of the Public School 
building at Chapel Hill. 

The initial program consisted of What Will Barbara 
Say? a romance of Chapel Hill by Minnie Shepherd 
Sparrow who essayed the leading part; The Return of 
Buck Gavin, a tragedy of a mountain outlaw, by 
Thomas C. Wolfe, of Asheville, who made his debut 
as a player in the title role of this his first play; and 
When Witches Ride, a play of North Carolina folk- 
superstition drawn largely by the young author, 
Elizabeth A. Lay, from her own experiences while 
teaching in a country school in Northampton County. 
The prologue, Our Heritage, written by Miss Lay 
for the occasion, expresses beautifully The Playmakers 
faith : 

We mock with facts the Southern folk-belief, 
And so forget the eternal quest that strove 
With signs and tales to symbolize the awe 
Of powers in heaven and earth still undefined. 
Yet we may catch the child-like wondering 
Of our old negroes and the country folk, 
And live again in simple times of faith 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xix 

And fear and wonder if we stage their life. 
Then witches ride the stormy, thundering sky, 
And signs and omens fill believing minds ; 
Then old traditions live in simple speech 
And ours the heritage of wondering! 

The production was entirely home-made; the 
scenery as well as the settings, costumes, and make-up 
all done in the little home town. Miss Lay tells how 
she scoured the countryside to find a log cabin to serve 
as a model for the scene in her initial play, When 
Witches Ride, how she "sketched the details and drew 
in the logs on the big canvases," and how after 
"weeks of experiment with the new kind of paint 
weeks in which the scene resembled a layer cake or a 
striped flag more than anything else" finally the 
medium was mastered and a really creditable log cabin 
set achieved. 

The first performance of new plays is an event long 
to be remembered. There is a feeling of intimate 
interest, an almost childlike excitement on the part of 
everyone townspeople, students and professors alike. 
This is their play, written by one of their own number. 
These are their players, and all are Playmakers to 
gether. 

It is an interesting experience to participate with 
the audience in such a performance. "If the log cabin 
used in a play of fisher-people contains logs larger than 
the trees in that section," Miss Lay remarked one day, 
"if the rocks in the fireplace could not have existed, in 
that locality, if there is a flaw in the dialect, the author 



xx FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

and producer will be sure to hear about it." For the 
audience is genuinely interested in the reality of the 
play and the stage picture must be true to the life, even 
in the least details. 

The play is Peggy, perhaps. The curtain discloses 
the shabby interior of a tenant cabin. It is a familiar 
sight just such a drab-looking cabin in the red fields 
as each person present has passed by many times with 
out thought or interest. Mag, the jaded farm woman 
with snuff-stick protruding from the corner of her 
mouth, is getting supper, singing snatches of an old 
ballad as she works. She is a commonplace figure. But 
in the play she becomes a character of new and com 
pelling interest. Spontaneous guffaws of laughter 
greet this actual appearance upon their stage of the 
"sorry-looking," snuff-spitting character so familiar to 
them. But presently all are moved to feel with the 
actors the tragic fact of her hard-won existence. Then, 
it seemed to me, that the dividing footlights were gone 
that the audience had actually joined with the actors 
and become a part of the play itself. It had become 
a living truth to them. 

The author, Harold Williamson, is playing the part 
of Jed, the stolid, good-hearted farmhand, with a 
homely sincerity and naturalness which recalls the 
work of the Irish Players. Sympathy, simplicity, the 
abandonment of self in the reality of the scene these 
qualities in the acting serve to unite the people in the 
audience with the players on the stage. It is life itself 
before them "that moves and feels." 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xxi 

The plays produced in these first years have revealed 
a remarkable variety of materials and forms. 

Representative of the farm plays are such tragedies 
of revolt as Peggy, The Miser and The Lord s Will. 
Thesecondof these centresinthecharacterof old Wash 
Lucas, "the stingiest man living in Harnett County," 
who hoards his wealth in a steel box and starves the 
lives of his children. After seeing this piece when it 
was presented in Raleigh on The Playmakers State 
Tour last season, one remarked, "I know every member 
of that family. It is every bit true !" The Lord s Will 
has the same poignant reality. It tells the story of a 
country preacher, Lem Adams, the itinerant revivalist 
of the "tent-meetings," well known in the rural dis 
tricts of North Carolina. It is the tragedy of a de- 
feated dreamer. In contrast with these are Dogwood 
Bushes and In Dixons Kitchen, comedies of the Caro 
lina springtime, of the dogwoods and the peach trees 
all in bloom, and the old, old story of a country court 
ship. 

There are plays of daring outlaws, the Croatan gang 
in The Last of the Lowries from the southern part of 
the State; and mountain plays of moonshiners and 
adventurers such as Dod Cast Ye Both!, Reward 
Offered, The Return of Buck Gavin, and the ghost-tale 
of The Third Night. There are colorful themes from 
Colonial times the strange legend of The Old Alan of 
Edenton, the wistful fantasy of Trista, the haunting 
mystery of Theodosia Burr in Off Nags Head; plays 
of the folk-belief in the supernatural as in The Hag 



xxii FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

and in the brave sea-play Blackbeard, Pirate of the 
Carolina Coast, with the gallant song of Bloody Ed, 
the buccaneer : 

In a winding shroud of green seaweed 

There many a dead man lies 
And the waves above them glitter at night 

With the stare of the dead men s eyes. 
No rest, no sleep, ten-fathom deep 

They watch with their glittering eyes. 

Forever washed by the deep sea-tides 

With the changing coral sands, 
For their treasured gold in their own deep graves 

They search with their bony hands. 
No rest, no sleep, ten-fathom deep 

They dig with their bony hands. 

There are also plays of North Carolina to-day 
serious pieces like Who Pays, suggested by an incident 
which occurred during a strike in a southern city, and 
The Reaping, dealing with a social problem based on 
the Doctor s Report, side by side with the amusing 
sketches of college life like The Vamp and The Chat 
ham Rabbit done in the picturesque phrase of our 
student vernacular ; and Waffles for Breakfast, a happy 
satire of newly married life. 

Not the least significant are the plays written for a 
negro theatre, such as the realistic Granny Doling, The 
Fighting Corporal, a rollicking comedy of the undoing 
of a braggart soldier just back from "de big war in 
France," and White Dresses, the story of Old Aunt 
Candace and her niece, Mary McLean, a pretty quad- 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xxiii 

roon girl. Aunt Candace becomes the embodiment of 
her race, and her words to Mary conclude the stark 
tragedy of the race problem: "I knows yo se got 
feelin s, chile. But yo se got to smother em in. Yo se 
got to smother em in." 

In preparing the texts of the plays the aim has been 
to preserve the naturalness of the speech. The spell 
ing of the dialect has been simplified as much as possi 
ble without destroying the distinguishing local char 
acteristics of the language as spoken in North Caro 
lina. The Southern dialect is hard to represent in 
print. In the task of editing the dialect of the plays 
The Playmakers are indebted to the expert and de 
voted services of Professor Tom Peete Cross, formerly 
of the University of North Carolina, now of the Uni 
versity of Chicago. The results of his scholarly zeal 
in this difficult field are admirably summarized in his 
article on "The Language of the Plays" prepared for 
the appendix to this volume. It will serve as an 
invaluable guide to the player in the pronunciation 
of the vernacular as spoken in the South. 

A brief statement of the sources of the plays 
included in this volume will suggest to the reader the 
nature and the variety of our Carolina materials. 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

The characters and the superstition in this play 
were drawn largely from the author s observation as a 
country school teacher in Northampton County, North 



xxiv FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

Carolina. The idea of the plot is based on the fol 
lowing account of the actual character, Phoebe Ward, 
given in an article by Professor Tom Peete Cross of the 
University of Chicago on "Folk-Lore from the South 
ern States," published in The Journal of American 
Folk-Lore, Volume XXII (1909). 

"The early years of Phoebe Ward, witch, are 
shrouded in mystery. . . . She lived here and there, 
first at one place and then at another in Northampton 
County, North Carolina. She stayed in a hut or any 
shelter whatsoever that was granted her. 

"She made her living begging from place to place. 
Most people were afraid to refuse her, lest she should 
apply her witchcraft to them. . . . Hence the people 
resorted to a number of methods to keep her away. 
For instance, when they saw her coming, they would 
stick pins point-up in the chair bottoms, and then offer 
her one of these chairs. It is said that she could always 
tell when the chair was thus fixed, and would never 
sit in it. Also they would throw red pepper into the 
fire, and Phoebe would leave as soon as she smelled 
it burning. . . . 

"Among her arts it is said that she could ride per 
sons at night (the same as nightmares), that she could 
ride horses at night, and that when the mane was 
tangled in the morning it was because the witch had 
made stirrups of the plaits. She was said to be able 
to go through key-holes. . . . She was credited with 
possessing a sort of grease which she could apply and 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xxv 

then slip out of her skin and go out on her night ram 
bles, and on her return get back again." 

PEGGY 

The characters in this play were drawn from life. 
"Although far from typical of North Carolina, such 
conditions as are here portrayed are not uncommon in 
some localities," the author writes. "The action of the 
play is a true transcript of the family life of the charac 
ters in the play, as I have known them in real life." 

"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

This is a play dealing with moonshiners of west 
ern North Carolina. It is a comedy of folk char 
acters lifted out of contemporary life and portrayed 
through the medium of drama. 

A group of mountaineers, lounging around a block 
ade still which nestled in a thicket of rhododendron 
and laurel on the side of Grandfather Mountain, one 
summer day not long ago decided to play a trick on old 
Noah Setzer, a moonshiner and boss of the Ridge, by 
telling him that his daughter Mary had "fell" for a 
certain suspicious stranger who had come into those 
parts and who was believed to be a "revenooer." Out 
of this prank and the results that came from it, the 
plot was developed. 

After writing the play, the author took it back to 
the Hills and read it to Noah one winter evening by 
his still. To find himself in a play and to hear his very 
words spoken again quite amazed and delighted the old 
man. He laughed as he heard again how he had been 



xxvi FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

fooled into getting a "revenooer" for a son-in-law. As 
he got up to stir his mash, he said, "But hit was a kind 
o unnad ral joke to pull on me atter all !" 

Last summer on the occasion of another visit to the 
scene of his play, Mr. Heffner, the author, found old 
Sank, the boot-legger for old Noah (whose part he 
himself played in the original cast) in jail for moon- 
shining. 

OFF NAGS HEAD, or THE BELL BUOY 

In the winter of 1812, according to the legend, a 
pilot boat drifted ashore at Kitty Hawk, near Nags 
Head, on the coast of North Carolina. In the cabin, 
among other evidences of the presence on the boat of a 
woman of wealth and refinement, was found a portrait 
of a lady. The "bankers," the rough, half barbarous 
inhabitants of the islands along the North Carolina 
coast, cut off from the moderating influences of main 
land civilization, were in the habit of regarding all 
driftwood, regardless of its size or condition, as their 
own property. They fell upon deserted vessels and 
demolished them. This small pilot boat was treated 
in the customary manner. The portrait fell into the 
hands of a fisherman, on whose walls it hung for many 
years. 

In 1869, Dr. William G. Pool was called in to 
see, near Nags Head, an old fisherwoman, who was 
sick. He found the portrait, secured possession of it 
and its story, and later identified the subject as Theo- 
dosia Burr, daughter of Aaron Burr. 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xxvii 

In a small pilot boat, The Patriot, on December 30, 
1812, Mrs. Theodosia Burr Alston sailed from 
Georgetown, South Carolina, for New York, where 
she expected to join her father who had just returned 
from exile. The Patriot did not reach New York; 
neither it nor any of its crew or passengers was ever 
heard of again. The commonly accepted story is that 
the boat was taken by pirates and the persons on board 
forced to walk the plank. 

These are the two stories. 

The "bankers" of the North Carolina coast are 
known, at this time, not to have confined their wreck 
ing activities to the victims that chance threw in their 
way. They evolved a scheme by which vessels were 
lured upon the sandy beach by a light fastened to a 
horse s head, which from a distance looked like a ship 
at anchor, or moving slowly. When the deluded ship 
came aground, these land pirates boarded it and, 
killing the persons on board, plundered the vessel. 

These things, told by Miss Pool in The Eyrie* and 
a suggestion made by her furnish the basis for Off 
Nags Head. Miss Pool says, "It is not improbable 
that The Patriot during a night of storm was lured 
ashore by a decoy light at Nags Head, and that pas 
sengers and crew fell into the hands of the land 
pirates in waiting, who possessed themselves of the boat 
and everything of value it contained. 

* The Eyrie and Other Southern Stories by Bettie Freshwater Pool. 
New York. 1905. 



xxviii FOLK-PLAY MAKING 

THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

This play is based on the account given by Mrs. 
Mary C. Norment in The Lowrle History (Daily 
Journal Print, Wilmington, N. C., 1875). Part of 
the action is not historical. In reality Steve Lowrie 
and not Henry Berry was the last of the gang. 

The Lowries were a famous band of outlaws of 
mixed blood, part Croatan Indian. In the latter part 
of the Civil War many of the Croatans in Robeson 
County were opposed to the conscription of men by 
the Confederate Government for work on the fortifi 
cations along Cape Fear. Among these were the 
Lowrie boys, who killed an officer sent to arrest them 
for evading the law. After this, the Lowries con 
cealed themselves in Scuffletown Swamp where they 
were supplied with food by their sympathizers. As the 
gang grew in size it began to act on the offensive 
instead of the defensive, and soon it spread terror 
throughout the county, robbing, plundering, and kill 
ing when necessary. For more than ten years the 
gang held out against the officers of the law and only 
in 1874 was the l ast Lowrie killed. 

No particular effort is made to follow the intricacies 
of the Croatan dialect. But the following charac 
teristics of pronunciation will be of aid in giving the 
play local color. 

The typical Croatan of 1874 spoke with a peculiar 
drawl in his voice, most often pronouncing his / like 
d f as "better," bedder; c or ck was pronounced like g, 
as "back," bag; short a like short o, as "man," mon. 



FOLK-PLAY MAKING xxix 

Sometimes g was sounded as d, as "loving," lovind. 
Even now there is little change in the dialect of the 
uneducated Croatans. 

In the woodcut at the beginning of this article, 
designed by Mr. Julius J. Lankes as a program- 
heading for The Carolina Playmakers, a mountaineer 
on one side and a pirate on the other draw the curtains 
on a Carolina Folk-Play, The Last of the Lowries, 
suggesting the wide range of materials from which 
these plays are drawn. 

Such are the Carolina Folk-Plays. 

They have been welcomed in towns and cities all 
over North Carolina. It is the hope of our Playmakers 
that they will have something of real human interest 
for the big family of our American folk beyond the 
borders of Carolina. 

There is everywhere an awakening of the folk-con 
sciousness, which should be cherished in a new republic 
of active literature. As did the Greeks and our far- 
seeing Eliabethan forebears, so should we, the people 
of this new Renaissance, find fresh dramatic forms to 
express our America of to-day our larger conception 
of the kingdom of humanity. 

Toward this The Carolina Playmakers are hoping 
to contribute something of lasting value in the making 
of a new folk theatre and a new folk literature. 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 
September 30, IQ22. 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 



CAST OF CHARACTERS 

As originally produced at The Play-House, Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina, March 14 and IS, 



UNCLE BENNY, owner of the crossroads store, 

George McF. McKic 

ED, his son, Walter H. Williamson 

JAKE, formerly a railroad engineer, George Denny 
PHOEBE WARD, witch Alga E. Leavitt 

SCENE: The storehouse of a cross-roads store. The 
action takes place in the back country of North 
Carolina, near the Roanoke River, at a time when 
the people of Northampton County still believed 
in witches. A stormy night. 



SCENE 

^ m ^J HE storehouse of a cross-roads store. 

t The room is a typical log cabin, roughly 

built. Red peppers , herbs, and dried vegetables 
hang from the low rafters. Boxes and bales are piled 
in disorder among farm implements, kitchen utensils, 
and miscellaneous articles from the stock of a cross 
roads general store. Dust and cobwebs are everywhere. 
In the back wall at the right a small opening cut in the 
logs serves as a window, with a rough shutter hinged 
loosely at the right side. The door in the back wall 
at the left is hidden by a dirty sheet, hung over it to 
keep out the cold air. In the right side-wall is a huge 
stone fireplace in which a hot fire blazes, the opening 
being nearly filled with logs. A large supply of wood 
is piled beside the fireplace at the right. A big jug of 
liquor stands on a box in that corner. There is a rough 
bench in front of the fire. In the front at the left is a 
table. Three lighted candles, a small straw-covered 
jug, mugs of liquor, and coins are on the table. 

ED, JAKE, and UNCLE BENNY are seated around 
the table, playing cards and drinking. Outside the 
storm is gathering. 

UNCLE BENNY is very old. His face is wrinkled 
and weather-beaten. He has no teeth and is nearly 
bald. He wears an old shirt and rusty trousers. 

3 



4 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

ED is middle-aged, red of face, very tall and lank. 
His shoulders droop and his whole appearance is that 
of slouchiness. He wears a dirty shirt with sleeves 
rolled up, and ragged overalls. 

JAKE is older than ED. He is burly and strong, com 
manding respect from the others who fear his bad 
temper. He is something of a bully. He wears a 
dark coat over his overalls. An old engineer s cap is 
on his head. 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Speaking in a high, nervous voice) 
This here s mighty good liquor, ain t it so, Jake? 

JAKE 

(Pours himself another glass) 
Uh-huh. (Gruffly.) It s your play, Ed. 

UNCLE BENNY 

I reckon you might s well pour me some more, too, 
while you re bout it. 

(JAKE pours while UNCLE BENNY holds his 
cup. Suddenly a loud crash of thunder is 
heard. UNCLE BENNY starts up and jerks his 
hand away, nearly spilling the contents of the 



JAKE 

(Grabs the jug and sets it down with a bang) 
Drat your hide, ol man ! Do you want to waste all 
this good whiskey? What s the matter with you? 
Hey? 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 5 

UNCLE BENNY 
Thar now, Jake, I didn t mean no harm. 

JAKE 
I reckon you nigh about wasted all this here liquor! 

ED 

(Drawling , testily) 
Well, tain t none of your liquor, is it? 

JAKE 

(Turning on him) 

An what re you jumpin in about? You re both 
bout to jump out n your skins! What you feared of? 
Tain t nothin but thunderin a mite. 

UNCLE BENNY 

But it s an awful night, Jake. It s witch weather 
thunder an lightnin on a cold night like this here 
jest the night for witches to be ridin an sperits to be 
walkin an I can t leave off from feelin that bad luck s 
a-comin to us here. (A very loud thunder clap is 
heard as the storm grows more fierce.) Oh, lordy! 
lordy! 

ED 

Hit s one powerful queer storm, sure, but brace up, 
Pop, n have another drink. 

( The mugs are filled again) 

UNCLE BENNY 

Mighty strange things has happened on a night like 
this here, an right nigh the Roanoke River here, too. 



6 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

I mind as how twas jest sech a storm as this when a 
oF witch rid my ol woman to death. Yes, suh, when 
she woke up in the mornin they was dirt in between 
her fingers, an* her hair was all tangled up whar the 
witch had done made stirrups of it for to ride her 
through the briars. She was nigh about wore out, an 
all she could do was to stare an gape an* mumble 
bout goin through the key-hole. . . . 

JAKE 
(Scornfully) 

Aw, shucks! Your ol woman drunk herself to 
death an I reckon it didn t take much ridin to finish 
her, neither. If you d been drivin a railroad engine 
nigh about all over Carolina an into Virginia like I 
have, you d a seen so many sights that it d take more n 
any ol hag to give you the shakes. Any ol back- 
country witch like Phoebe Ward can t scare me off 
from a good dram like this here, let me tell you all 
that! 

ED 

They do say ol Phoebe herself is prowlin round in 
this neighborhood, her n that durned ol toad she carries 
round. She slept cross the river last night an Jeff 
Bailey seen her cuttin through the low-grounds bout 
dawn. 

JAKE 

Wai, I d jest like to see ol witch Phoebe one more 
time an I d finish for her. Clare to goodness the last 
time she come roun to my house I fixed her good an 
purty. (Laughing loudly.) I chucked the fire right 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 7 

full of red pepper pods an she nigh about sneezed her 
head off. It didn t take ol Phoebe long to pick up 
that toad of hers an clear out of there, damned if it 
did! I reckon she won t come soon again to stay 
with me! 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Fearfully. Rolling thunder is heard) 
They do say as how she was married to the Devil 
hisself once. I ve heared em say he s comin hisself 
an carry her off one of these days when her time s 
come. 

JAKE 

I reckon he ll get us all when our times comes, for 
all that. (Laughing coarsely.) Aw, brace up, Benny! 
I d like to get my hands on that ol toad. 

(UNCLE BENNY looks around fearfully\ as 
though dreading her appearance. He gets up 
and shuffles slowly to the fireplace^ speaking as 
he goes.) 

UNCLE BENNY 

I ve heared tell it was her toad that s her sperit. 
The varmint leads her to a place an then sets on the 
hearth stones twell it s time for her to move. She 
won t stir from that place twell her ol Gibbie com 
mences to hop off first. 

JAKE 

She didn t wait for her toad to hop last time she 
visited me, let me tell you-all that! 



8 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

UNCLE BENNY 

You d best to mind how you rile oP Phoebe, Jake. 
They do say as him what angers her will be witched. 
They say her spell ll pass on him, an Gibbie ll be his 
sperit. He ll have to move when that toad commences 
to hop jest the same as ol Phoebe. 

JAKE 

Aw, I d like to see any oP toad-frog make me move 
on. A good jug of liquor s the only thing d put a spell 
on me ! 

ED 
(Rises and speaks to UNCLE BENNY who is warming 

his hands at the fire) 
Let s have another dram, Pop. 

(As they stoop over the big jug in the corner 
to the right, a terrific thunder crash is heard. 
They drop the jug with a bang and JAKE 
strides over to them in a rage. 

The witch has entered unseen, having slipped 
through the curtain over the door. PHOEBE 
WARD is very old, and bent, and wrinkled. 
Her dress is wrapped around her in rags and 
on her head she wears an old bonnet which does 
not hide her wizened face. There are two 
pockets in her skirt. She stands rubbing her 
hands, pinched and blue with the cold.) 

JAKE 

(With his back to the door. He has not seen PHOEBE) 
Damn you, give me that jug, you two ol fools! Are 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 9 

you goin to waste all the liquor yet? (The others art 
bending over the jug, paralyzed by the sight of PHOEBE, 
who advances slowly into the room.) What re you 
starin at? (He ivheels around, sees PHOEBE, and 
starts back in amazement.} The witch! 

(There is a dead silence while PHOEBE shivers 

toward the fire.) 

ED 

(Hoarsely) 
Good Lord! How d she get in? 

UNCLE BENNY 
(Cowering in fear) 
Sure s you re born she s done come through the 

latch-hole ! 

JAKE 

(Hesitating) 
What you doin here? 

PHOEBE 

(She ignores JAKE and comes down centre. ED 
and UNCLE BENNY cross to the left as she ad 
vances, and retreat behind the table in fear. 
She speaks to an object concealed in her 
pocket.) 

Sh, now, Gibbie, quit your hoppin . (She takes the 
toad out of her pocket, shuffles slowly to the right and 
puts the toad on the end of the bench.) Sh, now, this 
here s whar you ll leave me rest a bit now, ain t it? 
Thar now, toad-frog. (She crosses to the right of 
the table.) Uncle Benny, I se powerful tired. I se 



io WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

done come nigh onto ten mile from the river. Leave 
me rest a spell, me n Gibbie? 

UNCLE BENNY 
Sure, now . . . 

JAKE 

(Takes a step forward, menacingly) 
Get out of here, you damned witch ! 

(Eo and UNCLE BENNY regard his boldness 
with alarm.) 

PHOEBE 

(Slowly turns to JAKE, watching the effect of 
her words, which make even JAKE draw back.) 
Tain t no good luck it ll bring to you, Jake, if you 
drives me out again into the storm. My spell ll pass 
on him at harms me, an the sperits ll be drivin him 
like they drive ol Phoebe. For it s my oP man, the 
Devil, you ll be reckonin with this time. It s the 
demons what re ridin in the storm. Them an* Gibbie, 
they ll be drivin , ain t it so, Gibbie? Drivin , 
drivin , an never restin twell Gibbie rests! Won t 
you leave me warm myself a bit, poor ol Phoebe 
what the sperits has been drivin ? 

ED 
Don t rile her, Jake, don t rile her. 

JAKE 

(Grudgingly, as he goes to the back of the room) 
Wai, set down, Phoebe, an warm yourself (Turns 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE n 

on her) but you got to ride yourself off presently, you 
hear me? 

(He comes down toward the table. PHOEBE 
sits down on the bench, looking very helpless 
and old.) 

PHOEBE 

Tain t as if I ll ever warm myself again, Jake. 
Tain t as if I ll ever set again an watch the flames 
a-snappin an* the sap a-sizzlin in the hickory logs! 
When my Gibbie starts to hoppin off from me this 
time, poor ol Phoebe s bliged to go. She ll be gone 
for good, Jake, an this here s the last time you ll lay 
your eyes on this poor ol woman, Jake, this here s 
the last time . . . this here s the last time . . . 
(Mumbling.) 

JAKE 

What re you talkin about, Phoebe? Are you 
studyin for to ride off home to hell with your Ol 
Man, the Devil? 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Hoarsely) 

She s goin to ride us all to death, Jake. Don t make 
her witch us. Leave her be ! 

PHOEBE 

(A loud crash and roll of thunder is heard as 
the storm increases. The shutter and door 
rattle loudly in the wind. PHOEBE looks around 
wildly.) 
I done hyeard the Black Uns callin in the thunder. 



12 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

(She rises and goes to the window.) The Devil s 
ridin on the fiery blaze o lightnin an the Black Uns 
are a-screechin in the wind. (Frenzied.) Oh, 
they re straddlin on the storm clouds an they re leanin 
down an stretchin out an callin for ol Phoebe. 
Don t you hear em, Jake, don t you hear them voices 
shriekin ? (The wind blows loudly.) Don t you 
hear them demon claws a-scratchin at the door? 
They re callin me, ain t they, Gibbie? An when my 
time s done up, I ll go ridin through the storm clouds 
an this here s the last time you ll be seein me on this 
earth. This here s the last time, ain t it, Gibbie? 
(She mumbles to herself.) 

ED 

Aw, what s she mumblin bout? 

(The candles flare in the draft.) 

UNCLE BENNY 

Look ! Look, Jake, we ve got three candles a-burnin 
an it s a sure sign of death in this place. (Quavering.) 
Don t let her curse us all by dyin in this place ! 

(He goes to JAKE and seizes him appealingly.) 

JAKE 
Avr, I ain t no witch doctor ! 

PHOEBE 

Be you feared I ll leave this here ol corpse behind 
me when I go ? Oh, the Black Uns ll be callin when 
my time s done over here an 1 the Devil hisself ll take 
me to be ridin by his side. I ll be ridin on the storm 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 13 

clouds as they thunders through the sky! I ll be ridin 
off in lightnin an you won t see no trace o Phoebe 
left behin . . . . Jest a little while . . . jest a little 
while. . . . 

ED 

(Less frightened) 

Aw, stay an* warm yourself, Phoebe, an* don t mind 
Jake. He s sort of queer hisself, I reckon. 

( They watch as PHOEBE pulls the bench nearer 
to the fire and settles herself, crouched over the 
warmth. They sit down as far away from her 
as possible but ED and UNCLE BENNY are still 
uneasy. Thunder is heard.) 

PHOEBE 

Gibbie, you been a-wrigglin round an hoppin . 
Don t be signin me to go right yet. Jest leave me set 
a spell an get a rest an warmin . Set still, Gibbie, 
set still, set still. . . . 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Staring fascinated at the toad) 
I don t like these here goin s-on, I don t. I don t 
like that varmint of hers! 

ED 

I sure wish that ol toad would hop off from here 
an sign the hag she s got to move on. I hope to God 
this here is the last time for ol Phoebe ! 



14 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

PHOEBE 

(Lies down on the bench) 
Set still, Gibbie, set still. 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Quavering) 

I I don t like to stay in this place, Jake. Tain t 
no good luck comin from three lights in a room an* 
I m feared of that varmint. It s a demon, sure. One 
of us ll be witched if we stays ! Let s us go ! 

JAKE 
(Shaking off any fears and speaking with studied gruff - 

ness. Rolling thunder is heard.) 
An* let the screechin devils get you from the clouds I 

ED 

That ol toad makes my flesh crawl. Somethin s 
goin to happen! 

JAKE 

Aw, come on, boys. I ain t goin to let this here 
hag an her dirty ol toad spoil my good liquor. I m 
goin to have a drink. (He fills the jug and pours 
more whiskey in the mugs. As he goes to the corner 
to the big jug he looks defiantly at PHOEBE.) She s 
done gone to sleep as peaceful as you please. (He sits 
down to drink and the others recover a little.) I ain t 
goin to let ol Phoebe witch me. I ain t feared of her. 

ED 

(Looking intently at JAKE) 
They do say as how witches cain t harm them as is 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 15 

like themselves. (Insinuating.) They do say they s 
men witches, too. 

JAKE 

(Begins to show drunken bravado. He speaks sar 
castically.) 

Well, now, mebbe I am a witch. I ain t never 
thought about it before. I never did know jest how to 
call myself, but mebbe that s jest what I am, a witch. 
(Laughing, with a swagger at UNCLE BENNY.) You d 
better look out for me, Benny ! 

UNCLE BENNY 

Aw, now, Jake, I ain t never done nothin* agin* you, 
Jake. Now you know I ain t, Jake. 

ED 

(Half maliciously) 

They do say there s somethin queer when a man 
ain t a-feared of a witch an her demon. 

JAKE 

Naw, I ain t feared of her. (He takes another drink. 
All show the effects of the liquor.) An I ll tell you- 
all what I ll do. I ll go right up to the old hag an 
snatch that cap right ofFn her head, I will ! 
(He rises.) 

ED 

They do say she keeps a heap of money in that ol* 
bonnet o* hers. 

UNCLE BENNY 

(He rises) 
Don t tech her, Jake. Don t rile her. Leave her 



16 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

be. (As JAKE advances to the bench where PHOEBE 
lies.) Aw, Jake! 

JAKE 

I ll see if this here ol bundle is full o demon witch- 
spells or jest good money. 

(He puts out his hand toward the cap.) 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Jumps up, trembling with horror, as a crash of thun 
der is heard outside.) 

Don t, Jake! Look at that witch! Look thar! 
That ain t nothin but her skin layin thar. See how 
shrivelled tis. Oh, lordy, Jake. She s done already 
slipped out n her hide an she s ridin through the sky. 
She left her skin behind ! (With despair.) Oh, lordy, 
lordy, 

JAKE 

Aw, drat you, Benny. Quit your shriekin*. You ll 
jump out n your own skin next. This here s Phoebe 
Ward an all of her, too, (With a swagger} an 
I ll show you! (Before UNCLE BENNY can stop him 
he reaches out and lays a finger on PHOEBE S hand. 
He draws back, awestruck.) Wai, I ll be damned! 
(Touches her again.) My God, Benny, if she ain t 
dead! Get a lookin glass, Ed. (ED brings a cracked 
glass from the mantel shelf. JAKE holds it before 
PHOEBE S mouth.) Yes, sir, sure s you re born, Phoebe 
Ward s done blew out. She s had her last ride for 
sure. 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 17 

UNCLE BENNY 
(Wildly entreating) 

Cover her up, Jake. Cover her up! I don t want 
to see her no more. Them three lights was a sign. 
Oh, lordy, lordy! 

JAKE 
(Goes to the door and pulls down the old sheet t throws 

it over PHOEBE) 

Thar, now, that ll do. (He goes to the table and 
drains his glass.) Here, brace up, all, an have a 
drink. 

(They drink in silence.) 

ED 

Wai, she s gone. 

JAKE 

Say, you-all, oP Phoebe s dead an I reckon we 

might s well drink her wake right now. Fill up, all. 

(D pours the whiskey while JAKE takes the 

candles from the table and places two at the 

head and one at the feet of the "corpse" 

ED 

(Gulping) 
Here s you, Jake ! 
(He drinks.) 

JAKE 
Here s to ol Phoebe. 

(He drinks, laughing coarsely.) 



i8 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

UNCLE BENNY 
Oh, Lord, help us. 
(He drinks.) 

ED 

This place s gettin cold needs some more wood on 
the fire. 

(The fire has burned low and the light is dim.) 

JAKE 

Wai, you put it on. 

ED 

(Solemnly) 

I wouldn t go nigh that there witch s corpse, not if 
her ol cap was plumb full of gold! 

JAKE 

Aw, I d shake hands with her ol man, the Devil 
hisself, to-night. 

(JAKE gets up and goes around the bench to the 
woodpile, with his back to the "corpse." 
PHOEBE sits up, very slowly, and feebly pushes 
aside the shroud. The thunder is heard above 
the storm outside. The shutter bangs and the 
candles are puffed out. JAKE drops his load 
of wood into the fire and turns toward the 
bench as he hears the sound behind him. He 
leans against the side of the fireplace. All 
stand spellbound, aazing at the witch.) 




& c 



.HP -o 



OS 

O, 



CQ 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 19 

PHOEBE 

Uncle Benny, gimme a drap o liquor. It s mighty 
cold over here. (Shivering, she gets up and shuffles 
toward the table. ED and UNCLE BENNY retreat in 
horror.) I m done frizzed clean through . . . jest 
one little drap . . . before I go! This here s my last 
time! (She picks up a cup and gulps hurriedly as if 
fearful that she will be forced to go before it is fin 
ished.) This here s my last time! 

JAKE 

(Infuriated) 

This here s your last time, is it ? Warn t you dead ? 
Ain t we done drunk your wake? Ain t it time to 
bury you now ? You git yourself out n that thar door, 
Phoebe Ward! You re dead for sure an I m going to 
bury you now. 

(The storm outside grows fiercer, with the 
heavy sound of thunder. Flashes of lightning 
are seen through the window as the shutter 
swings in the ivind.) 

PHOEBE 

(Menacingly to JAKE) 

You d best to leave me be, Jake! Tain t in your 
hands to dig a grave whar Phoebe ll lie. Twon t be 
no good that ll follow him as sees me ride the clouds 
to-night ! 

JAKE 

(Frenzied, he dashes her aside and strides to the door) 
You won t ride the clouds no more n I will, you 



20 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

damned witch! You re dead an* it s time you re 
buried! (He stumbles through the door.) Come on 
out, or I ll come back an drag you out when I get your 
grave dug. 

(Vivid lightning is seen through the door as 
JAKE strides out. Loud crashes of thunder 
sound near by.) 

PHOEBE 

(Exalted, listening as she moves to the door) 
Oh, I hear the Black Uns thunderin down the path 
ways of the sky! I hear em whirlin through the 
clouds an dartin flames of fire! It s all of hell is 
risin up to carry me away! (Strong wind and rolling 
thunder are heard.) Oh, they re screamin out for 
Phoebe an they re wild to sweep her through the storm 
with the Devil at her side! Tis the Devil hisself is 
waitin an he s scorchin up the blackness with the 
lightnin s of his eyes! (As though in answer to a call 
from without.) I m comin , I m comin ! I ll be 
ridin ! I llberidin ! 

(She stands in the open door, facing the room, 
and a terrific flash of lightning throws her 
figure into dark silhouette. Then she retreats 
backward and the door bangs behind her. 
UNCLE BENNY and ED are left crouching by 
the table.) 

UNCLE BENNY 
She s gone. She ll get Jake. 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 21 

ED 

Oh, Lord, where s her toad ? Where s her sperit ? 
(There is a wild crack and crash of thunder, 
the door bangs open and there is another blind 
ing flash of lightning. JAKE stumbles through 
the door in terrible fright. His hands are over 
his eyes, as if he is blinded. He gropes, stum 
bling, to the table and falls into a seat.) 

JAKE 
(Stunned) 
I seen im ! I seen im ! 

UNCLE BENNY 
My Lord! 

ED 
What What was it, Jake? 

JAKE 
(Wildly) 

I m witched! Oh, I seen all the Black Uns in Hell, 
I seen the Devil hisself! I seen im, I seen the Ol 
Man ! The heavens done opened like a blazin , roarin 
furnace an the storm clouds wrapped ol Phoebe round 
an snatched her up in fire! An all the clawin 
demons out n Hell rid roarin past my ears. Oh, 
they ve blinded me with balls of fire an knocked me to 
the ground. An the Devil hisself done carried off ol 
Phoebe for to ride among the witches. I seen im, I 
done seen im ! 



22 WHEN WITCHES RIDE 

ED 
My God, he seen the Devil! He s witched sure. 

UNCLE BENNY 

(Moves back trembling and steps against the toad, 
which has moved near to the table. He jumps 
in fright and stares at it in horror. 
Oh, good Lord, the spell s here I 

ED 

What do you see ? 

UNCLE BENNY 
The toad! 

JAKE 

My God! She left her toad ! 

ED 
It s done moved! It s moved from where she put it. 

UNCLE BENNY 

Her spell s passed on Jake. Her demon s witched 
him! Oh, lordy! 

JAKE 

It s moved, it s moved! (Struggling as with a 
spell.) Oh, I got to go too. The witch s toad s done 
got me an I got to go. (Retreating from the toad with 
his hands to his eyes as before.) I m goin , Gibbie, I m 
goin , I m goin . . . . 



WHEN WITCHES RIDE 23 

(He turns at the door and stumbles out into the 
night. The door remains open on blackness and 
a roaring wind blows through the room, leav 
ing it nearly in darkness as ED and UNCLE 
BENNY stare at the toad and retreat in horror.) 

ED 
It done got him ! 

UNCLE BENNY 

The Devil took him! Oh, Lord, help us. Oh, 
lordy, lordy! 

(Eo and UNCLE BENNY fall on their knees and 
crouch in abject terror. The sound of thunder 
is heard rolling in the distance.) 



CURTAIN 



PEGGY 1 

A Tragedy of the Tenant Farmer 

BY 
HAROLD WILLIAMSON 



1 Copyright, 1922, by The Carolina Playmakers, Inc. All rights 
reserved. Permission to produce this play may be secured by address 
ing Frederick H. Koch, Director, The Carolina Playmakers, Inc., 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 



PEGGY 



CAST OF CHARACTERS 

As originally produced at The Play-House, Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina, May 30 and 31, 1919. 

WILL WARREN, a tenant farmer, George McF. McKie 
MAG WARREN, his wife, Elizabeth Taylor 

PEGGY, their daughter, aged 18, Virginia McFadyen 
HERMAN, their son, aged 6, Nat Henry 

JED, a farm hand, in love with Peggy, 

Harold Williamson 

JOHN McDoNALD, the landowner, George Denny 
WESLEY McDoNALD, his son, a University student 

George Crawford 

SCENE: A tenant farm in North Carolina. The bare 

living-room of a two-room cabin. 
TIME: The present. An April evening, about seven 

o clock. 



SCENE 

r-rmHE scene is laid in one of the two rooms of a 
i tenant shack. In the centre of the room is 
* a square eating-table with an oil-cloth cover. 
On each side of the table is a straw-bottom chair. A 
small, worn cook-stove is in the left corner and 
beside it a wood-box. At the right of the store is a 
rectangular table on which are a dishpan and other 
cooking utensils. Against the back wall is a cup 
board which holds the meagre supply of tableware. 
On top of it are several paper sacks and pasteboard 
boxes containing cooking materials. A door in the right 
side leads from the eating-room into the only other 
room of the shack, used as a sleeping-room. A door at 
the back on the left leads outdoors. Through this 
doorway can be seen a crude string lattice-work partly 
covered by a growing vine, and a shelf supporting a 
bucket and gourd. A small window is at the right in 
the back wall. The floor and walls are bare. Every 
thing has a fairly neat appearance but suggests the 
struggle against a degrading poverty. 

As the curtain rises MAG WARREN is busily pre 
paring supper, singing as she works. HERMAN is sit 
ting on the floor tying a piece of rope to the end of a 
broom handle. 



30 



PEGGY 



MAG WARREN is a thin, bent, overworked woman of 
forty-two. Her face reveals the strain of years of 
drudgery. Her thin hair is drawn tightly into a knot 
on the back of her head. She wears a cheap calico dress 
and a faded checkered apron. In the pocket of her 
apron is a large snuff can. A protruding snuff-brush 
claims the right corner of her mouth?- . She beats up a 

Mag s Song 



&{-;. 1 . 




fEfigB L^ 

A rich 
Three years 

-ICT -4 a 1 


man lay on his 
rolled by and the 

-t -i u n L f j f 



vel . vet couch, He ate from plates _ of 
rich man died, He de . scend - ed to fiery 



















gold; 


A 


poor 


girl 


stood 


on 


the 




hell, 


The 


poor 


girl 


lay 


ia 


the 








> 



mar. ble steps, And said, "So cold, so cold"_ 
an- gel s arms, And sighed, U A1& well, alls welL L. 

1 The habit of "dipping snuff" is common among the poor whites 
m all sections of North Carolina. A twig is chewed into shreds at 
one end and is known as a snuff-stick or "tooth-brush." This is dipped 



PEGGY 31 

batter of cornbread, pours It into a pan on the stove, 
and after pouring some water into a large coffee-pot, 
she begins to slice some "fatback" * 

Herman is an under-sized boy of six years with a 
vacant expression on his pinched face. He wears a 
faded shirt, and a lone suspender over his right shoulder 
gives scanty support for his patched pants, which strike 
him midway between the knee and the ankle. He is 
barefooted. When he finishes fixing his "horse" he 
gets up, straddles the stick, and trots over all the unoc 
cupied part of the room. 

HERMAN 

Git up, Kit ... whoa ... ha. (Whipping the 
stick.) What s the matter? Cain t you plow 
straight ? 

(In his trotting he runs into MAG at the stove. 
She turns on him angrily.) 

MAG 

Git out n my way an git over thar in the corner. 
(Utterly subdued, HERMAN goes and sits in the corner 
while MAG goes on with her work. Presently she 
turns to him.) Go git me a turn o wood, an don t 
you take all day about it neither. 

(HERMAN goes out. MAG continues to sing, 
moving about between the table, stove, and cup- 

into the powdered snuff and then rubbed over the gums and teeth. 
The women seem to get much satisfaction from this practice. 

i "Fatback" is fat salt pork which, together with cornbread, forms 
the main part of the diet of "hog and hominy" eaten by poor whites 
the year round. 



32 PEGGY 

board as she prepares the meal. JED SMITH 
enters. He is a tall, lanky, uncanny-looking 
fellow of twenty-four. He is dressed in the 
shabby shirt and faded blue overalls of an 
ordinary poor farm-labortr. He walks in 
slowly and lazily and says nothing. As he 
goes to the table MAG looks up at him from her 
work.) 

MAG 

I thought you was Will, Jed. (She continues her 
work.) Seen anything o Pegg? Hit s a-gittin 
mighty high time she s back here. 

JED 
(Pulls out a chair from the table, flops down in it, and 

begins whittling on a stick) 
That s what I come to see you about, Mag. 

MAG 

(Stopping her work and looking around at JED) 
Ain t nothin happened, air there, Jed? 

JED 

Nothin to git skeered about, but ol man McDon 
ald s boy come in from one o them air colleges th 
other day an I jest seen Pegg down yonder a-talkin 
to him an a-lookin at him mighty sweet-like. Tain t 
the fust time neither. 



PEGGY 33 

MAG 

(Goes up nearer to JED) 
So that s what s been a-keepin her ? 

JED 

Yeah, an if you don t watch out, Mag, there s a 
tale goin to git out an ol man McDonald ll drive you 
off n the place. 

MAG 

You re right, Jed. Jest wait till me an her pa gits 
through with her. We ll put a stop to it. 

JED 

(Nervously) 
Now don t go an tell her I told you, Mag. 

MAG 

You needn t be skeered. I been a-thinkin as much 
myself. She s been powerful uppity lately, but I didn t 
know what about. Her pa s allus said that perty face 
o hern would be the ruinin of her. Don t you know 
Wes McDonald wouldn t be a-havin* nothin* to do 
with Pegg lessen she was perty? 

JED 

Naw. 

MAG 

She s clear out n his class an ain t got sense enough 
to know it. (She turns the corn cake in the pan.) An 
it s a perty way she s a-doin you, Jed. 



34 PEGGY 

JED 

(Drearily) 
Yeah, I reckon she ain t likin* me no more. 

(HERMAN returns with the wood and throws 
it in the box.) 

MAG 
Ain t she said she d marry you ? 

JED 

Aw, she did onc t. 

MAG 

An* you re a good match for her, too. Will s a-been 
a-sayin how good you are at the plow. 

JED 
I d shore like to have her, Mag. 

MAG 

Well, if you want her you can git her, Jed. She s 
done a right smart o washin an a-cookin an* a-hoein* 
in her day an I reckon she ll make you a good woman. 

JED 
I ain t a-worryin* about that. 

MAG 

(Looking out of the window) 
Yonder she comes now. Ain t no tellin what fool 
notions that boy has been a-puttin in her head, but 
you jest wait till me an her pa gits through with her. 



PEGGY 35 

JED 

(Rising nervously) 
Reckon I ll be a-goin now, Mag. 

MAG 

Ain t you goin* to wait an see Pegg? Pears like 
you d be a-pushin yourself. 

JED 
Naw, I . . .I ll come back after I eat. 

MAG 

Well, you come back. Me an her pa ll have her in 
a notion then. 

HERMAN 

(Stops JED as he is going out) 
Gimme some terbaccer, Jed. 

JED 

(Feels in his pockets) 
I ain t got none, Herman. 
(He goes out.) 

MAG 

What d I tell you about axin folks for terbaccer? 
When you want terbaccer ax your pa for it. 

HERMAN 
He won t gimme none. 

MAG 

Well, it don t make no odds. You don t do nothin 
but waste it nohow. 



36 PEGGY 

(HERMAN sits down on the floor to the front 
and begins to play aimlessly. 

PEGGY comes in, flushed and happy. She is a 
pretty girl of eighteen years. She has attractive 
features, is of medium height, slim and lively. 
Her hair is light and becomingly disheveled. 
Her dress is extremely simple but shows signs 
of care.) 

PEGGY 
Supper ready, ma? 

MAG 

Cain t you see it ain t? Why ain t you been here 
long ago a-helpin me to git supper ? 

PEGGY 

(Putting the milk bucket she has brought in 
with her on the table, she goes over to the left 
to hang up her bonnet.) 
I couldn t finish milkin no sooner. 

MAG 

You needn t tell me you been a-milkin all this time. 
Where you been anyhow? 

PEGGY 
I stopped to help Lizzie Taylor hang out her wash. 

MAG 
Been anywheres else? 



PEGGY 37 

PEGGY 



No m. 



MAG 

Well, git busy a-fixin that table, an tell me what 
fool notions Wes McDonald s been a-puttin into your 
head. 

PEGGY 

(She tries to look surprised) 
I don t know nothin bout Wes McDonald, ma. 

MAG 

Don t you lie to your ma like that, Pegg. You think 
I don t know nothin bout it, but you cain t fool your 
ma. He s been a-settin up to you, ain t he ? 

PEGGY 
No, ma, he ain t said nothin to me, he ... 

MAG 

Now be keerf ul. 

PEGGY 

He jest spoke to me, an I jest axed him how he 
liked to go off to school an he said he liked it an he 
axed me why I wasn t goin to school an I told him 
I had to work. 

MAG 
Didn t he say nothin bout your bein perty? 



38 PEGGY 

PEGGY 

(Proudly) 

Yes, he said I was perty. Said if I had book-learnin 
an* lived uptown I d be the pick o the whole bunch. 

MAG 

That s what I was a-thinkin he d be a-puttin into 
your head. You keep out n Wes McDonald s way. 
He ain t a-keerin nothin for you and besides he ll git 
you into trouble. Wait till your pa hears o this. 

(There is a silence while MAG goes on with 
her work.) 

PEGGY 

(Looking out of the window, wistfully) 
I reckon it d be nice to go to school. 

MAG 

Mebbe it is. If you d a-been rich, schoolin might 
a-done you some good, but you ain t rich an schoolin s 
only for them as is rich. Me an your pa never had no 
schoolin , and I reckon you can git along thout any 
yourself. (She goes to the door and looks off anxiously 
across the fields.) Hit s high time your pa was a-gittin 
home. 

HERMAN 

I d like to see pa myself. Want some terbaccer. 

MAG 

(Comes to the front. Solemnly) 
I been mighty skeered bout your pa ever since the 
doctor told him he had that air misery round his heart. 



PEGGY 39 

PEGGY 
Did he say twas dangerous? 

MAG 

(Going back to the stove) 

Well, he said your pa was liable to keel over most 
any time if he ain t mighty keerful. Ol man McDon 
ald s got him down yonder in that air new ground 
a-bustin roots an it ain t a-doin* your pa no good 
neither. 

PEGGY 

I jest seen pa an Mr. McDonald a-talkin together 
an 1 both of em was mighty mad about somethin . 

MAG 

I reckon your pa struck him for a raise, an he ought 
to have it. A dollar an a quarter a day ain t enough, 
workin like your pa does, but oP man McDonald d 
see your pa clear to hell afore he d pay him a cent 
more. (She goes to the door, takes the snuff-brush 
from her mouth and spits out the snuff. She puts the 
snuff-brush in her pocket, takes a drink of water from 
the gourd and washes her mouth out with it, spitting 
out the water. She speaks to PEGGY as she turns back 
to the stove.) There s them cabbages your pa told you 
to hoe an you ain t done it, have you? 

PEGGY 
No, ma, I ain t had time. 



40 PEGGY 

MAO 

You had a-plenty o time to let Wes McDonald put 
a lot o fool notions in your head. You ll have a 
perty time a-tellin your pa you ain t had time. ( There 
is a pause.) Jed said as how he might come around 
after he s eat. Hit s a perty way you been a-treatin 
Jed an he ain t a-likin it neither. 

PEGGY 

I don t care if he likes it or not. Tain t none o 
his business. 

MAG 

Hit ain t? Ain t you done told him you was a-goin 
to marry him ? 

PEGGY 
I might have onc t, but I ve changed my mind. 

MAG 

(Angrily) 
What s come over you anyhow? 

PEGGY 

Nothin , ma. 

MAG 

Well, I d like to know what you think you re a-goin 
to do? Tain t every man a woman can git, an you 
ought to thank the Lord Jed s given you the chanct. 

PEGGY 

I ain t a-wantin it. I ain t a-goin to marry Jed an 
have to work like a dog all my life besides, I got to 
love the man I marr?. 



PEGGY 41 

MAG 

(Scornfully) 

Love? What s love got to do with your bread an 
meat? You been a-readin some o them magazines as 
they git down at the house. I d like to know what 
you think you re goin to do? 

PEGGY 
(Resolved) 
I m goin to git me a job up town an be somebody ! 

MAG 

There ain t nothin you could do there. You was 
raised on a farm, an I reckon that s jest about the 
place for you. You don t think you re better n your 
ma, do you ? 

PEGGY 

No, ma, but I could git me a job in the Five an 
Ten Cent Store. Mary Cameron s got her a job there, 
an she s a-wearin fine clothes an got a lot o fellows. 

MAG 

Yes, an there s a lot a-bein said as to how she got 
them clothes. I tell you, me an your pa ain t a-goin to 
have nothin like that. 

PEGGY 
But, ma, I 

MAG 

Shet up. You behave yourself like you ought to. 
before Jed. If you don t, you better. 



42 PEGGY 

PEGGY 

I ll treat him all right but I ain t a-goin* to marry 
him. 



MAG 
Me an your pa ll say if you will or not, an* 

PEGGY 
The bread s a-burnin , ma! 

MAG 

(Running quickly across the room she jerks the bread 
off the stove and dumps it into a pan on the table) 
Good Lord, now don t that beat you? An 1 there 

ain t no more meal. (She looks out of the door.) 

Yonder comes your pa, too. Hurry up an* git that 

table laid while I git a bucket o* water. 

(She takes the pail and hurries off. 

WILL WARREN comes in heavily. He is a 
slouchy, hump-shouldered man of fifty years. 
His hair is long and his face unshaven. He 
wears an old, dirty, sweat-ridden black hat with 
a shaggy brim; a faded blue denim shirt; brown 
corduroy pants, worn slick, attached to a large 
pair of suspenders by nails; and brogan shoes 
with heavy gray socks falling over the top. He 
drags himself in and stands propped against the 
side of the door. His face is white and he 
appears entirely exhausted.) 



PEGGY 43 

HERMAN 

(Going up to WILL) 

Gimme some terbaccer, pa. (WiLL pays no atten 
tion to him.) Pa, gimme some terbaccer. 

WILL 
( Giving HERMAN a slap on the face that sends him to 

the floor) 
Git to hell away from me. 

(He comes into the room slowly and unsteadily^ 
pulls off his hat and throws it into the corner, 
and falls into a chair by the table, breathing 
heavily and staring blankly. He says nothing.) 

PEGGY 

(She notices WILL S heavy breathing and is alarmed.) 
What s the matter, pa, ain t you feelin well? 

WILL 

(Struggling for breath) 
Gimme . . . some coffee . "~. . quick! 

PEGGY 

(Quickly pouring a cup of coffee and giving it to him. 
He gulps it down and appears considerably relieved) 
You ain t sick, air you, pa? 

WILL 

Naw. . . . It s another one o* them durned 
miseries round my heart. (He gulps the coffee.) I 
ain t a-goin to work another day in that durned new 



44 PEGGY 

ground. I told McDonald I wouldn t an damned if 
I do. 

MAG 

(Who has now come back, and has overheard his 

words) 

I don t blame you for sayin so, but there ain t no use 
in flyin ofFn the handle like that. 

WILL 

Well, I said it an I ll do it. These here money men 
like McDonald think as how they can work a poor 
man like me to death an pay me nothin for it neither, 
but durned if I don t show him. 

MAG 

What d he say when you axed him for a raise? 

WILL 

Aw, he said he was a-losin money every year. He 
allus says that. Says he ain t a-raisin enough to pay 
for the growin of it, but don t you reckon I know how 
much he s a raisin ? He s a-gittin thirty cents a pound 
for his cotton an two dollars a bushel for his corn, an 
then he says he ain t a-makin nothin . He cain t lie 
to me, he s a-gittin rich. 

MAG 

Course he is. Ain t he jest bought another one o* 
them automobiles th other day? 



PEGGY 45 

WILL 

Yeah, an while him an that no count boy o* his n 
are a-ridin around in it I m down yonder in that air 
new ground a-gittin a dollar an a quarter a day for 
killin myself over them durned roots. Jest afore 
quittin time I come mighty nigh givin out. 

MAG 

(She brings the cornbread and "jatback" and puts It on 
the table. PEGGY busies herself at the 

table and cupboard) 

You better take keer o yourself. You know what 
the doctor told you. 

WILL 

Yeah, but how in the devil can I help it like things 
are now? I told him what s what a while ago, an 
damned if I don t stick to it too. (He looks over the 
table.) What you got for supper? (Seeing the burnt 
bread, he picks it up and hurls it to the floor.) What 
kind o durned cookin do you call this you re doin , 
anyway ? 

MAG 

It wouldn t a-happened if Pegg hadn t been a-pes- 



WILL 

(Angrily to PEGGY) 
Well, what you been a-doin ? 

PEGGY 
Nothin , pa. 



46 PEGGY 

MAG 

In the fust place, you told her to hoe them cabbages. 

WILL 
Ain t you done it? 

MAG 

No, she ain t done it, but she s been down yonder 
a-lettin Wes McDonald put a lot o fool notions into 
her head about her bein perty, an now she says she 
ain t a-going to marry Jed. 

WILL 

(Savagely to PEGGY) 
You ain t, air you ? 

PEGGY 

(Half crying but defiant) 

No, pa, I ain t. I ve seen you an ma a-workin* from 
sun-up to sun-down like niggers an* jest a-makin 
enough to keep us out n the poor house, an I ain t 
a-going to live no sich life with Jed. He couldn t do 
no better. 

WILL 
Well, durn your hide . , . 

MAG 

An* she says she ll git her a job up-town like Mary 
Cameron s got. You know what s a-bein said about 
Mary! (To PEGGY.) Don t you know we ain t 
a-goin* to have nothin like that? 

(She shakes her finger at PEGGY.) 



PEGGY 47 

PEGGY 



But, ma, I ... 



WILL 

Shet up. We ve raised you up here an* it s us as ll 
say what you ll do. Jed axed you to marry him an 
durn it, you ll do it, too. 

PEGGY 
I won t. 

WILL 

(Rising from the chair) 

You won t? Don t you let me hear you say that 
agin. 

PEGGY 
(Wildly) 
I won t, I won t, I won t! 

WILL 

(In uncontrolled rage) 

Then, damn you, you can git right out n this house 
right now an ... 

MAO 

Hush, Will, hush. 

WILL 

(Breathing heavily and struggling in his speech) 
An* don t you ... let ... me ever . . . see you 
. . . agin . . . 

(Clutching his hands to his heart, he gasps, 
staggers backward, then falls heavily to the 



48 PEGGY 

floor. The women stand stunned for a moment, 
then MAG rushes over, kneels by him, and 
shakes him.) 

MAG 

Will, Will, . . . answer me, Will, . . . say some- 
thin . (Turning to PEGGY, who has not moved, and 
speaking dully.) Lord, Pegg, he s dead, . . . your 
pa s dead . . . he s gone. Send for somebody . . . 
quick ! 

PEGGY 

(Excitedly to HERMAN) 

Run tell Mister McDonald to come here quick. 
He s down at the house. Go git him quick.! (HER 
MAN runs out. MAG, shaking with sobs, crouches over 
the body. Her head is buried in her apron. PEGGY 
tries to comfort her mother.) Don t carry on like that, 
ma. It ain t a-doin no good. (Hopefully.) Mebbe 
he ain t dead. 

MAG 

Yes, he is. He s gone. . . . Oh, Lord ... I 
knowed it d git him. 

(JED appears at the door and stands stupefied 
for a moment.) 

JED 

(Coming into the room) 

What s the matter? (Going nearer to the body.) 
What s the matter with Will ? 



PEGGY 49 

MAG 
He s gone, Jed, he s gone. O Lord! 

JED 
He ain t dead, is he? Who done it? 

(JED kneels over the body and examines it for 
signs of life. MAG rises slowly, shuffles to a 
chair on the other side of the table and sits 
sobbing.) 

PEGGY 
(Appealing) 
Is he dead, Jed, is he dead? 

JED 

I don t know. Git some camphor, quick. 

(PEGGY runs into the other room for the 
camphor bottle. 

JOHN McDoNALD enters, followed by his 
son, WESLEY. The farm-owner is a tall, pros 
perous-looking man of forty-eight. He has a 
hard face and stern, overbearing manner. 

WESLEY is a rather handsome young fellow 
of twenty-one, a typical well-dressed college 
boy.) 

McDoNALD 

(To JED, taking in the scene at a glance) 
What s the matter? Is he dead? 



50 PEGGY 

JED 
(Rising) 

I believe he is, Mister McDonald. 

MCDONALD 
How did it happen ? 

JED 

I don t know. 

MAG 
(Sobbing) 

He s gone, Mister McDonald, he s gone. ... He 
had another one of them fits with his heart jest like 
the doctor said he would, an* he went all of a sudden 
afore I knowed it. 

MCDONALD 

(Examining the body) 

Well, he s dead all right, sure. (Peggy runs in 
with the camphor bottle.) That s no use, he s dead. 
Jed, let s put him on the bed in the other room. 

(They carry the body off the stage, MAG 
following. ) 

WESLEY 

I m awfully sorry, Peggy. Tell me how it hap 
pened. 

PEGGY 
(Crying) 

He got mad with me because I said I wouldn t marry 
Jed, an he jest got madder an madder an told me to 



PEGGY 51 

leave an* never come back. An 1 then he put his hands 
up to his heart like this, an fell over. 

WESLEY 
Did he have heart trouble? 

PEGGY 

Yeah, I reckon so. He s been a-havin pains in his 
side, an a-chokin for wind, an the doctor said he d 
have to be keerful. 

WESLEY 
And he wanted you to marry Jed ? 

PEGGY 
Yeah, he said I d have to. 

WESLEY 

( Under standingly ) 
And you didn t want to? 

PEGGY 

No, if I married him I d have to work like a dog 
all my life, an I ain t a-goin to do it. 

WESLEY 

I don t blame you, Peggy, but what are you going 
to do? 

PEGGY 
I m goin to git me a job up-town. 



52 PEGGY 

WESLEY 

You mustn t go there, Peggy. You couldn t get 
along there. 

PEGGY 

(Looking to him wistfully) 
Well, what can I do ? 

WESLEY 
(Thoughtfully) 

I don t know. ... I guess you d better marry Jed. 
( There is a pause. PEGGY goes over to the window 
and looks out hopelessly.) If everything was dif 
ferent I d ... Oh, I didn t mean that. You see such 
a thing would be impossible. 

PEGGY 

(Turning to him, hopefully) 
But I could . . . 

WESLEY 

Stop, Peggy. ... I think a lot of you but don t 
you see I couldn t do more? It s impossible. Don t 
cry that way, Peggy. I m sorry I said what I did this 
afternoon. I didn t mean to upset you like this. Go 
on and marry Jed. He s all right and I ll see that he 
gets a good showing. 

PEGGY 

(Desperately) 

But I don t want to. I know how it ll turn out. 
(McDoNALD and JED return, followed by 
MAG.) 



PEGGY 53 

MAG 

(Without hope) 
What s a-goin to come of us now ? 

MCDONALD 
(Brusquely) 
I don t know, Mag. 

MAG 

You ain t a-goin to make us leave, air you? 

McDONALD 

Let s not talk about that now. 

MAG 

But tell me, Mister McDonald, will we have to 
leave ? 

McDONALD 

(Impatient) 

Well, if you just must know right now, Mag, I m 
sorry to say it, but I don t see how I can keep you here. 

MAG 

(Imploring him) 
For God s sake don t make us leave the place! 

McDONALD 

Now don t get foolish, Mag. You see it s a busi 
ness proposition with me. With Will gone there s 
nothing you and your family could do on the farm that 



54 PEGGY 

would pay me to keep you here. It s the man I need, 
especially now when .there is so much plowing to be 
done, and as soon as I can I will have to get another 
man to take Will s place. Of course he will have to 
live in this house. 

MAG 

(Resentful) 

After Will has worked for you steady for sixteen 
year you ain t a-goin to turn me out now, air you ? 

Me DONALD 

I m sorry if you look at it in that way, Mag, but 
business is business, and I can t afford to keep you here. 

MAG 

But, Mister McDonald, we ain t got nowhere else 
to go ... an we d starve to death. 
(She turns away sobbing.) 

MCDONALD 

You ought to be thankful for what I ve done for 
Will. He was about the sorriest hand I ever had. 
There s absolutely nothing you can do. I can t keep 
you. 

WESLEY 
But, father, you can t turn them away like this. 

MCDONALD 

It s time you were learning that business is not a 
charitable institution, Wesley. I m trying to run a 
farm, not a hard-luck asylum. 



PEGGY 55 

JED 
Mister McDonald, let me see you a minute. 

(He goes over and whispers to McDoNALD.) 

McDoNALD 

(To JED) 

Well, if you do that everything will be all right! 
(PEGGY looks up hopefully. He turns to MAG.) Jed 
has just said that if Peggy would marry him he will 
let you and the boy stay here in the house with them. 
If you want to do that it will be all right with me. 

(PEGGY, disheartened, sits down by the table 
and buries her head in her arms, crying.} 

MAG 

You ll marry Jed, won t you, Pegg? You ll do it 
for your ma, won t you ? 

McDoNALD 

Well, I ll leave that for you to decide. You can let 
me know later. (Going to the door.) Come, Wesley. 
I ll send to town for something to put him in, and Jed 
can get help to dig the grave. If you want anything, 
let me know. 

(McDoNALD and WESLEY go out. WESLEY 
hesitates in the door a moment, looking with 
sympathy at PEGGY). 

JED 

(He goes slowly and uneasily over to PEGGY) 
You ain t a-goin to turn me down, air you, Peggy? 



56 PEGGY 

MAG 

{Imploring) 

You ll marry Jed, won t you, Pegg? You ain t 
a-goin to see your ol ma go to the poorhouse, air you, 
Pegg? 

PEGGY 

(After a moment of silence she raises her head and 

speaks in broken sobs) 
I reckon . . . it s the only way ... for me. 

CURTAIN 



DOD CAST YE BOTH! 

A Comedy of Mountain Moonshiners 

BY 
HUBERT C. HEFFNER 



i Copyright, 1922, by The Carolina Playmakers, Inc. All rights 
reserved. Permission to produce this play may be secured by address 
ing Frederick H. Koch, Director, The Carolina Playmakers, Inc., 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 



CAST OF CHARACTERS 

As originally produced at The Play-House, Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina, April 30 and May I, 1920. 

NOAH SETZER, a mountain moonshiner, George Denny 
WALT, his son, an ex-member of the A.E.F., 

Wilbur Stout 

MARY, his daughter, lone Markham 

BILL SPIVINS, a rough mountaineer, Bergin Lohr 

MosE,l frequenters of the still and ( Chester Burton 
SANK,J bootleggers for Noah 1 Hubert Heffner 
LAURENCE ABNER, a "revenoor," George Crawford 

SCENE: A dense thicket in the mountains of North 
Carolina. 

TIME: Four o clock in the morning. The spring 
of 1919. 



SCENE 

A TYPICAL mountain moonshiner s retreat in 

m a remote cove in the mountains of western 
"* North Carolina. 

The whole scene is hedged in on all sides by a thicket 
of tall rhododendron. At the back runs a small, trick 
ling brook which supplies the water for distilling pur 
poses. On the left is the still proper, to the right at 
the rear, the mash tub. Boards are nailed between 
some of the trees to form rough benches. Near the 
front of the stage three modern, high-powered rifles 
are stacked against a tree. The ground immediately 
around the still shows signs of much tramping. 

When the curtain rises WALT is discovered, stand 
ing by the mash tub, leaning idly on his paddle and 
smoking a cigarette. SANK is stretched out on a bench 
at the right, fast asleep and snoring loudly. MOSE 
sprawls on the ground near the still, smoking an old 
cob pipe. 

MOSE is a heavy-set, rough mountaineer. He is 
dressed in a blue shirt, patched coat, and dirty khaki 
pants, stuffed into heavy laced boots. There is almost 
a week s growth of stubby beard on his face. 

SANK is a thin, shriveled old man of about sixty 
years, so bent as to appear little. He is dressed in 
dirty khaki trousers, blue shirt, worn coat and heavy 
shoes, with blue knit socks hanging down over his shoe- 
tops. His beard is very scant thin as is his shrill 
effeminate voice. 

61 



62 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

WALT is a lank, lazy-looking fellow of about 
twenty-two. An ex-member of the A. E. F. f he still 
wears his overseas cap and military breeches. 

WALT 

(Looking at his heavy turnip watch) 
Bout four o clock. Soon be through. So the cops 
give ye a hard run of it, did they, Mose ? 
(He stirs the mash.) 

MOSE 

Yeah, since that thar pro-ser-ser-bition . . . they re 
gittin tighter n a rum jug. I used to could take a run 
o brandy to Lenore an measure hit out right on the 
streets, but ye can t do it no more. 

WALT 

Guess ye took the preachers their half o gallon per, 
all right, did ye? 

MOSE 
(Speaking with a drawl, between the puffs of his pipe) 

Yeah, ever sanctified one of em. They can t 
preach their hell fire and brimstone sermonts if they 
ain t got their fiery spirits. Hit s about time th 
ol man was comin back. He s had time to send in 
the watchers, an he seemed to be so anxious to finish up 
an go home. Ye d better git to stirrin that mash. 

WALT 

(Smoking idly) 

Oh, well. Mary ll meet th ol man if she went by 
the back way. What ye reckon she came fer, anyway, 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 63 

Mose? Tain t nothin here she wanted this time o 
night, an* she didn t git nothin . 

MOSE 

Dunno. (He puffs his pipe a moment.) Walt, 
since that revenoor is come in these parts, I don t like 
fer yer oP man to send in the watchers like he allus 
does afore we git the run off. 

WALT 

Oh, well, but I don t reckon thar s any danger. 
He s been at it fer bout forty year an hain t got took 
yit. I ll say sumpin to him about it afore long. 

MOSE 

Ye d better not to-night. Th oP man s mad as a 
hornet to-night. Ever thing s gone wrong an he s 
a-bilin over. 

WALT 

Ye needn t worry. I know th oP man better n 
that. (There is a sound of heavy footsteps outside as 
NOAH stumbles in the thicket and mutters an oath.) 
That s him comin now. Don t ye say a word bout 
Mary s bein here, hear? 

MOSE 

Yeah, but some o these nights he s goin* t send in 
his watchers too early fer th last time. 

WALT 

Don t reckon so, but if n he does then au re-war! 
(The sound of tramping draws nearer and 



64 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

NOAH stamps heavily in. He is a stocky moun 
taineer, sixty-five years of age heavy-set, ac 
tive and muscular. He wears dirty breeches, 
stained with mash, rough laced boots, a worn 
hunter s coat and blue shirt. His bushy gray 
hair sticks through the torn crown of the old 
hat which he wears jammed down on his head. 
His face is covered with a stubby gray beard. 
He looks crabbed and sullen. 

SANK snores on. MOSE smokes in silence. 
As NOAH enters, WALT stirs the mash indus 
triously, but he stops and leans lazily on his 
paddle as the old man goes to the still and 
begins fussing with the fire, muttering to him 
self. NOAH glares at him several times, then 
bursts out.) 

NOAH 

Walt, durn yer lazy hide! Stir that mash an git 
a move on ye. 

WALT 

Oui, oui, mess-sure. But, pa, what ye want t rush 
so fer? I ll git this mash ready toot-sweet, fore ye re 
ready fer it. 

NOAH 

Stop yer durn toot-sweetin an* git t work. How 
the devil d ye spect to git this run done fore mornin 
if ye ain t a-goin to work! 

(NoAH continues to work at the still. WALT 
stirs the mash for a few moments and then 
leans idly on his paddle once more. 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 65 

MOSE 

(Still sprawling on the ground) 
T other night, like I was a-tellin ye, Walt, when I 
was comin back from takin that run o brandy down 
to Lenore, I heared that man Abner had been kind o 
hangin roun yer sis Mary. 

WALT 

Who tol ye that? (He pokes his mash paddle at 
SANK S nose.) Wake up thar, Sank! Fall out! 

(WALT laughs. SANK sleepily strikes at the 
paddle and begins to yawn and stretch.) 

MOSE 

I heared it down to Patterson when I was a-comin* 
back, but I disrecollec who tol it. 

WALT 
Pertite madamerzelle! D ye hear that, pa? 

(NoAH works on, sullenly refusing to answer. 
SANK is now sufficiently awake to catch the last 
remark.) 

SANK 
Hear what, Walt? Hear what, ye say? 

MOSE 

Hear that Mary s been a-carryin on with that 
Abner. Ye hyeard it. 

SANK 

Yes, Walt, that s right, so tis, so tis. I heared 
Jinkins, the Post Office man, down to Patterson say, 



66 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

says he, that this here Abner was a revenooer fer he got 
letters from the givermint, so he did an that he s 
a carryin on with Mary, so he was. 

NOAH 
(Unable to remain silent any longer, turns and glares 

at SANK) 
That s a ding-busted lie! 

WALT 
No, tain t, pa. I seed Mary talkin to im. 

NOAH 
Then why in hell didn t ye ... 

WALT 

Twon t do, pa. I thought about it, but I larned 
when they took me to camp that it was beaucoo hell to 
pay fer gittin one o his kind. Then over thar in 
France one time . . . 

NOAH 

Dad-durn France! Hit don t make a dang what ye 
larned in France. Hit s a-goin down the Ridge thar 
that this here Abner is a revenooer. 

WALT 

Parlay voo! How d ye git like that, pa? (NoAH 
again turns to his work in surly silence.) Say, pa, 
air ye sure o that? (NoAH refuses to answer and 
WALT points to him, laughing.) That mess-sure no 
parlay Fransay. 

(He picks up a can of liquor near him and 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 67 

drinks from it, then offers it to MOSE and 
SANK. Both refuse.) 

MOSE 

Too early in the mornin to drink. Want my liquor 
in the daytime or in the fore part o the night. Bout 
time Bill was comin fer his liquor. 

SANK 
Yes, it be, an it be. He ought to soon be here. 

MOSE 

Bill s ol oman said that Mary was purty well took 
with that Abner feller. 

SANK 

She must be, yes she be. My ol oman said that 
Bill s ol oman said that Mary sees a right smart o 
that feller. 

WALT 
How d ye know Mary sees im ? 

MOSE 

I beared said that Mary meets him in the day time 
while ye re sleepin , Noah. 

SANK 
Yes, she do, an she do. 

WALT 
Pa, d ye hear that? 



68 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

NOAH 
(Unable to hold in any longer, now bursts out in 

a rage) 

Dod gast her divilish soul, a gal o mine carryin on 
with a revenooer! She ain t been the same since she 
came back from that thar ding-busted school over thar 
to Boone. Dod-burn her durned hide ! I s allus agin 
her goin over thar, but her ma sent her, an then layed 
down an died on me, an left her fer me to ten to. 

WALT 

You ain t tended to her, much, pa. Ye been tendin 
to this here most o yer time. 

NOAH 
(Furiously) 

Who in hell axed ye to speak? Stir that mash, damn 
ye, stir that mash. (WALT goes to work as NOAH 
fumes on.) So ye think I d let a gal o mine marry 
one o them danged revenooers, do ye ? 

WALT 
No, pa, but . . . 

NOAH 

Shet up, durn ye, shet up! (Stamping about in a 
rage.) I d see her in hell first! I d . . . 

SANK 

That s right, Noah. So tis, so tis. I don t blame 
ye, so I don t, so I ... 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 69 

NOAH 

(Turning on him) 
Shet up! Who axed ye t speak? 



SANK 

(Fawningly) 
Well, Noah, I ... 

NOAH 
Shet up, I said. What re ye doin here anyhow? 

SANK 

Ye tol us to come an git this run o liquor to take 
to Patterson, so ye did. 

NOAH 

How ye goin to spect me to git this run off an ye 
an Mose settin aroun runnin yer mouths. Git that 
thar bucket an go fotch some water. If n I s as ding- 
busted lazy as the rest o ye, I never would git nough 
juice made fer them thar judges an lawyers, not to 
say nothin bout them preachers. 

(MosE and SANK hurry off with a bucket. 
NOAH continues to fume arowid the still.) 

WALT 

Pa, tother day when we s a-talkin bout that thar 
man, Abner, bein a revenooer, Mary comes in an 
says that he wa n t no revenooer, an that he s some 



70 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

kind o magerzine scribbler, or somethin , an we axed 
er how she knowed it, an she said she jes knowed he 
wa n t. 

(NoAH pays no attention to him. MOSE and 

SANK enter with the water.) 

SANK 

Yeah, that s so, so tis, fer Mary tol* my oP oman 
that you all was tellin lies bout that thar man Abner, 
she did, so she did. An she said that Abner s a better 
man than any of us uns, she did, so she did . . . 

NOAH 

(Breaking out) 

Consarn ye! Bring that thar water here. (He 
grabs the bucket.) What ye standin thar fer? (He 
goes to pour the water into the still, but in his anger 
he spills it on the fire, almost putting it out. He turns 
on SANK furiously.) Dod-limb ye, Sank! Dod gast 
ye> ye goozle-necked ol fool ye! What ye a-goin an 
puttin that thar fire out fer ? Ding-bust ye, yer . . . 

SANK 
(Cringing) 
I didn t put it out, Noah, so I ... 

NOAH 

(Sputtering) 
Ye ... ye ... ye hum-duzzled . . . 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 71 

SANK 

(Shrinking from him) 

Leastwise I didn t go fer to do it, Noah, so I 
didn t. 

WALT 
Pa, ye put the fire out yerself, an* 

NOAH 

Shet up, ye whing-duzzled yaller boomer ye! Ye 
ain t no better n yer sis! Both o ye be a bunch o 
cowards, an ye ... 

WALT 
Oo la-la! Sweet pa-pa! 

NOAH 

Dod gast ye! Stop that thar la-la-in an pa-pa-in* 
or I ll wring yer neck! 

WALT 
Aw, pa, I didn t go fer to 

NOAH 
Shet up them jaws o yer n! D ye hear me? 

MOSE 

Noah, my ol oman said that that thar gal o yer n 
went plum down to the rock to meet that thar Abner, 
an 

NOAH 

Ding-dang her! I m a-goin home right now an 
see if n she ll . 



72 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

(He starts off right just as three owl hoots ring 
out in the distance, followed by a shrill "Bob- 
white/ NOAH hesitates a moment*) 



MOSE 

Thar comes Bill fer his brandy. That s his call. 
I ll give him the come-on. 

(He returns the call.) 

BILL 

(Singing drunkenly as he approaches from the left) 



Way up on Clinch Moun.tain I 



5 







n 



wan-der a . lone. lin as drunk as the 



Dev . 11 Oh> let me a . lone. 



Banjo Accompaniment 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 73 

I ll eat when I m hungry, 

En drink when I m dry; 
En if whiskey don t kill me, 

I ll live till I die. 



O Lulu, O Lulu! 

Lulu, my dear! 

I d give this whole world 
Ef my Lulu was hyer. 

Jack o diamonds, jack o diamonds, 

1 know you of oP 
You rob my pore pockets 

O silver an goP. 



SANK 
Ah-hah. Drunk agin ! 

BILL 

(He enters from the left. BILL SPIVINS is a 
rough, careless mountaineer. He wears clothes 
of the same drab tone as those of the other men. 
His big, bloated face marks him as a heavy 
drinker and he shows in his singing and in his 
speech the effects of his liquor. He calls after 
NOAH.) 

Hey, thar, Noah . . . whar be ye a-goin ? . . . I 
wanna git my brandy afore ye leave ... Ye done 
an sint yer watchers in, ain t ye? Whar be ye 
a-goin ? . . . 



74 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

NOAH 

(Coming back) 

That dod-gasted gal o mine s been carryin on with 
that thar damned revenooer, Abner, an I jes started to 
give her hell, an make her stop it. A gal o mine 
carryin on with a revenooer ! 

BILL 

Hit must be so then ... I been down the Ridge 
... an 5 when I come back my ol oman said that 
yer gal, Mary . . . was a-carryin on with him . . . 

WALT 

What else did she say, Bill? Mary allus tells yer 
ol oman ever thing. 

BILL 

Wai, she said that Mary said that . . . this here 
Abner wasn t no revenooer ... an that she had met 
him over thar to Boone . . . 

NOAH 

She s a-lyin ! That Abner gits letters from the 
givermint. 

SANK 

An he ain t never been to Boone. He s a furriner 
in these parts, an he s a ding-busted revenooer. 

BILL 

My el oman says Mary wants to run off with 
him . . . but she s skeered to, fer she knows what ye d 
do, Noah. . . . An she says he ain t no revenooer an* 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 75 

she s goin t show us he ain t ... an* that she s a-goin 
t marry him. 

NOAH 

Dod gast her! I ll be the one to say about that. 
My gal run off with a revenooer! No, by the holy 
damn, I ll see her in hell first! 

BILL 

My ol oman said that Mary was jes like her ma 
... an that she s up to somethin now ... an 1 if n 
ye didn t watch out she d marry that revenooer yit. 

SANK 

Yes, she will, Noah, so she will. Ye d better watch 
her, so ye had. 

NOAH 

Shet up, Sank, ye ding-busted ol jay-hawk ye, shet 
up! 

BILL 

My ol oman said . . . that yer ol oman allus had 
her way fore she died ... an that she didn t listen to 
ye when she didn t want . . . 

NOAH 

Dod gast yer ol oman ! She s allus sayin too much. 
Gimme yer jug. (He takes the jug, fills it, and hands 
it back to BILL.) Don t ye fergit to bring me them 
taters to pay fer this. Ye owe me two bushels now. 



76 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

BILL 

My ol oman said that that man Abner s up in 
these parts to-day . . . an thet yer gal met him over 
to the rock, an that she believed they s up to somethin ! 
Mary ain t been home to-day. . . . Ye d better watch 
her, Noah. . . . She ll git ye yit. 

NOAH 

Dad burn ye, git out o here! A gal o mine an a 
revenooer git me! Ye ding-busted yaller-livered fool, 
git out ! Ain t I the best man on this side o the Ridge ? 
Ain t I boss here? 

SANK 
Yes, ye be, Noah, so ye be. 

(BiLL reels out with his jug.) 

MOSE 

Noah, tother night down to Curtis s store I heared 
that Abner was sent here by the givermint to git ye 
fer killin that other revenooer a few years ago. 

NOAH 
(Startled) 

What s that? What re ye sayin , Mose? Ye re a 
liar! That s what ye are. Ye re a liar, I say! 
Ye re . . . 

MOSE 

Stop that, Noah. I s givin ye straight talk, an ye 
ain t to be callin me a liar. I don t have to work fer 
ye, an I ain t a-goin to. ... 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 77 

NOAH 

(More calmly) 

I didn t mean it zactly like that, Mose, but ... 
but ... 

MOSE 

That s the truth, Noah. Ol man Jinkins tol hit 
hisself. 

SANK 
Yes it be, so it be. I heared him myself, so I did. 

WALT 
Pa, that s why he s been hangin roun Mary. He s 

tryin to pick it out o her, so he c n git us, an he s 

caught her. That s hit. 

(At this moment MARY SETZER carefully peers 
through the rhododendron branches at the right. 
She is a pretty mountain girl, simply dressed in 
a plain but becoming pink gingham. Without 
having been seen, she withdraws noiselessly into 
the bushes again.) 

NOAH 

Gol ding her, she ain t got no more sense n to iet 
him ketch her an then let him be hangin roun to spy 
an larn all he can. 

WALT 
Pa, hadn t we better skip an git out n this? 

NOAH 

An leave all this an be skeered to come back to git 
it? No, I ain t goin t let no revenooer run me. 
They ain t never done it yit an they ain t never goin 



78 "DOD CAST YE BOTH !" 

t do hit. I ll go down thar to Patterson to-morrow, 
an I ll take ol Beck over thar (pointing to his rifle), 
an I ll fix this here dod-gasted, ding-fuzzled reve- 
nooer like I did tother n. An then I ll take that gal 
o mine . . . 

(NoAH is interrupted by LAURENCE ABNER, 
who breaks through the thicket at the right, 
followed by MARY SETZER, who keeps a safe 
distance in the rear, yet is on the alert, ready to 
assist him if necessary. ABNER is a good-look 
ing young man, trimly dressed in clothes suit 
able for mountain wear.) 

ABNER 
(Firing a shot and then covering the moonshiners with 

a pistol) 

Hands up, gents! (They turn, startled. WALT 
and MOSE spring toward the rifles but ABNER stops 
them.) None of that, gents. It ll mean death if you 
try it again. 

NOAH 
Dod gast ye ! 

ABNER 

First time a revenuer ever had the ups on you, isn t 
it? Now, gents, kindly move over to this side and 
remove your coats so that I may see that you are not 
armed. (The men obey his orders as he motions them 
over to the left with his pistols.) No tricks, remem 
ber ! I learned to shoot pretty straight in the army. 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 79 

WALT 

Larned to shoot in the army, huh ? Wai, that hain t 
nothin . While I s over thar in France I captured 
bout forty Bochers, three big rumble-bumble guns, an 
a dozen or more rifles an . . . 

MARY 

(Advancing) 

Aw, now, Walt, ye wa n t never up at the shootin 
line. Ye said ye peeled taters all the time. 

WALT 

Parlay whippay dally doodle doo ! Air ye here, Sis ? 
Wai, ye jes watch the ol man. 

NOAH 

(Seeing MARY) 

Dod gast ye, gal! Ding-damn ye! Here s that 
damned ol jay-pipin horn frog what ye been a-hangin 
aroun with ye see now if he ain t a revenooer, don t 
ye? Dad-burn yer hum-duzzled soul! Consarn the 
dod-limbed hide o ye! Ye see whar yer pa is, do ye? 
Damn ye, I ll fix ye. ... 

(He starts toward MARY, but ABNER motions 
him back with his pistol.) 

ABNER 

Hold on there! You want to be careful and not 
forget that I ve got you at present, and the law doesn t 
deal any too lightly with your kind, especially since 
prohibition. 



8o "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

(WALT slinks around behind the mash tub and 
picks up a club. The "revenooer" is occupied 
watching NOAH, and WALT steals closer to 
him, while the old man rages.) 

NOAH 

Damn ye, ye yaller-back tater bug ye! Ye got me 
now, but ye jes wait. What ye goin t do with us? 

ABNER 
What would you give me to let you off? 

NOAH 

(Surprised) 
What! What s that ye say? 

(WALT has now crept up close behind ABNER. 
He raises his club and springs forward, but 
MARY seizes his arm.) 

MARY 
Don t try nothin like that, Walt. Hit won t work. 

NOAH 
(Regaining his voice, he sputters in his uncontrolled 

rage) 

Ding-damn ye ! Dod gast ye ... ye ... ye ... 
consarn ye ... ye ... damn ye . . . ye be helping 
this here revenooer to take yer own pa. So that s what 
ye come here fer, ye durn yaller boomer ye! Ye 
divilish dog! Ye allus was jes like yer ma. Ye said 
he wa n t no revenooer, so ye did. Well, ye lied, gal, 
ye lied, an I ll git ye. ... 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 81 

ABNER 

Hold on a minute. You seem to forget that I ve 
got you all just at present, and I m likely to keep you. 
But just for the fun of knowing what would you give 
me to let you go ? 

NOAH 
Ding-bust ye! By that rotten mash over thar . . . 

ABNER 
Don t swear by the mash, I ve captured it, too. 

SANK 
So he has, Noah, so he has. 

NOAH 

Dad durn ye, Sank! Damn ye Walt if ye d do 
somethin if ye d drag him off he wouldn t be 
standin there with his gun drawed on us. But ye 
stand thar a-runnin yer clop-trop mouths an doin 
nothin . Why don t ye ... 

WALT 

Holy scents of sweet smellin asserfiditty ! Why 
don t ye do hit yerself, pa? 

ABNER 

Here now, let s come to business. If you re not 
going to make me an offer, I ll make you one. If you ll 
let me marry your daughter, we ll call this off. What 
do you say? 



82 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

NOAH 
(Amazed) 

What s that? (Beginning to understand, he stamps 
the ground in a rage and advances toward ABNER, who 
motions him back with his pistols.) Marry my gal, a 
revenooer marry my gal! Ye dod gasted pole-cat ye! 
Ye ding-busted stinkin possum skunk ! Ye bow-legged 
tater-bug ye! I ll see ye in Heck s ol pine field 
twenty miles tother side o hell first. I ll . . . 
I ll . . . 

ABNER 

Just a minute before you go on. Listen to this 
if I take you down the Ridge, as I certainly will if you 
don t do as I say, think of the days in prison. You re 
an old man and you would probably die there between 
the walls, behind the bars. People would come to see 
you, and point their fingers through the bars at you 
as they do the animals at the circus, and they d say, 
"There s Noah Setzer. He used to be the leader on 
this side of the ridge, but a revenuer gets them all, and 
one got him." Then there ll be your son and all these 
other fellows in cages beside you. . . . 

SANK 

That s right, Noah, so tis, so tis. He ll take us all, 
so he will, an ... 

NOAH 

Shet up, ye ... 



"DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 83 

ABNER 

And then there s another thing I want to tell you 
before I take you. I have the proof that you and your 
son were the men who killed the revenue officers four 
years ago. At your trial I shall turn the evidence 
against you both. That means death for you. 

NOAH 
Wh-wh-what s that . . . 

ABNER 

Just think ! They ll lead you, the boss of the Ridge, 
in like a cow, and sit you down in a chair. And then 
they ll turn on just enough juice to burn you, and let 
you know how it feels. Then gradually they ll turn 
it on full force and your bones will snap and it ll cook 
the flesh off your live body! 

SANK 
Give him yer gal, Noah, give him yer gal ! 

MARY 

(Glancing at ABNER with a smile) 
Pa, he s got ye, so ye d better give in. If ye don t, 
jes think what the Ridge ll say when he takes ye to 
jail. Ye ll be the only Setzer they ve ever got yet! 
I m willin to marry him, an if you ll let me, it ll save 
us all. I m goin t marry him, anyhow. 

NOAH 
Well, marry him an ... damn ye both! 



84 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

ABNER 

(Lowering his pistol, and laughing) 
Thank you, Mr. Setzer. 

NOAH 

Damn ye ... don t "Mister" me! An I don t 
want none o yer thanks. . . . ( To MARY and ABNER, 
who are now both convulsed with laughter.) What re 
ye laughin at? 

ABNER 

Well, you see I m not a revenue officer after all. 
I m just a magazine writer up in these mountains 
collecting materials and incidentally (Smiling at 
M AR Y) a wife. This has been the first real fun I ve 
had since the Boston Police Riot. 

NOAH 
Ye re not a ... a ... dod gasted . . . 

MARY 
(Who has been standing by ABNER S side, now steps 

forward) 

No, he ain t, pa. We wanted to git married, but I 
couldn t think of runnin away like Laurence wanted 
me to, an the whole Ridge a-thinkin that me, a 
Setzer, had run away with a revenooer. An then, I 
couldn t a never come back, fer ye d a got us. 

SANK 
Yes, he would- a, so he would- a. 




s 






"DOD GAST YE BOTH!" 85 

MARY 

An we wanted to be married right away, but we 
couldn t think o no way to prove that Laurence wa n t 
no revenooer, so we 

ABNER 
(Breaking in) 

Mary happened to remember a hold-up like this 
which she told me about when we were over at Boone, 
and then 

WALT 

(Interrupting, with a loud guffaw) 
And then ye planned all this jes to git us? 

(MARY and ABNER nod a smiling assent.) 

ABNER 

Yes, and I m going to get a corking good story out 
of it, too. 

WALT 

Pa, ye said a revenooer wa n t never goin t git ye! 
Why he ain t even a revenooer s picter an he s got ye ! 

NOAH 

(Unable to restrain his rage) 

Dad burn ye ! Ding dang ye, ... an ye hain t no 
revenooer . . . ! If I d a knowed that . . . dad burn 
ye ... by jumpin Jupiter s horn snake, I ll not stand 
fer hit. . . . I ll . . . 

MARY 

Hold on, thar, pa, ye ve done give yer promise, an 
Walt an Mosc an Sank all beared ye. 



86 "DOD CAST YE BOTH!" 

SANK 
Yes, ye did, Noah, an ye did! 

MARY 

We got ye, pa, an ye can t go back on yer promise. 
So we re goin to git married an stay on right here. 

NOAH 
(Violently) 

Damn ye ! Dod-limb ye . . .ye hum-duzzled . . . 
(He recovers his composure, takes a quart bottle, 
goes to the still and fills it from the worm.) I ll git 
even wid ye. Jes wait, I ll git ye, durn ye! (He 
hands the bottle to ABNER.) Here, take this here 
quart, an clear out o here, an stay out, an (He 
stands, shaking his fists at them as they go off laughing. 
There is just the trace of a grin on his face) an dod- 
gast ye both ! 



CURTAIN 



OFF NAGS HEAD 1 
OR THE BELL BUOY 

A Tragedy of the North Carolina Coast 
BY 

DOUGALD MACMlLLAN 




O " -.*-^".**^, j.x. AWVU A-/ 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 
OR THE BELL BUOY 



CAST OF CHARACTERS 

As originally produced at The Play-House, Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina, April 30 and May I, 1920. 

AN OLD FISHERMAN, Jonathan Daniels 

THE GAL," his daughter, Mildred Sherrill 

THE SICK WOMAN, the fisherman s wife, 

Aline Hughes 

THE DOCTOR, David Reid Hodgin 

THE OLD WOMAN, Elizabeth Taylor 

SCENE : A fisherman s hut on the sand dunes of Nags 

Head on the North Carolina Coast. 
TIME: September, 1869. A stormy night. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 
SCENE 

V FISHERMAN S hut on the North Carolina sand 
j^-M banks, at Nags Head. 

"** Jjt The roar of the surf and the distant clang- 

ing of the bell buoy can be heard before the curtain 
rises on a room furnished meagrely and not very neat 
in appearance. There is a door at the back to the left, 
opening out on the beach; to the right a small window, 
closed by a rough shutter. Between the door and the 
window, on the back wall, hangs an old portrait in a 
tarnished gilded frame. It is a handsome painting of 
a young woman. At the beginning of the play it is 
covered by a coarse woolen cloth. 

There is a fireplace in the left side wall and in that 
corner a table with a water bucket. On the right a 
door opens into the adjoining room. A lantern, hung 
on a nail by the fireplace, gives a flickering light. 

It is nearly dark on an evening in September and a 
storm is piling up mountains of spray in the surf, some 
distance across the beach. Throughout the entire 
action the roar of the surf and the ringing of the bell 
buoy can be heard. It is far away, but you could hear 
it at any time; only, when some one is talking, you do 
not notice the distant clanging. From time to time the 
wind howls around the house, and every now and then 

91 



92 OFF NAGS HEAD 

the smoke blows out of the fireplace, in which a fire 
of driftwood is struggling to overcome the .draft down 
the chimney. 

A woman is lying on a low bed in the corner of the 
room to the right. She is moaning as if she were suf 
fering acutely. The old FISHERMAN is standing by 
the bed with a conch-shell of water in his hand. He 
touches the woman on the shoulder. 

FISHERMAN 
Here, want a drink o water? 

(The woman moans and raises her head slightly. 
The FISHERMAN holds the shell to her lips. 
She drinks a swallow and sinks back on the 
bed. The FISHERMAN puts the shell on top of 
the water bucket and, crossing to the fireplace, 
begins to mend a shrimp seine lying across a 
chair. He sits down with the seine in his lap. 
The SICK WOMAN moans again and moves 
restlessly. He turns toward her.) 
Doctor Wright ll be here purty soon. The gal s 
been gone long enough to be back. 

(After a moment of silence the door at the back 
opens and the GIRL comes in with an apron full 
of driftwood that she has picked up on the 
beach. She has a shawl drawn tightly around 
her shoulders and her colorless hair has been 
blown into wisps about her freckled face. She 
whines in a nasal drawl when she talks. 
Dragging her heels, she shuffles over to the fire 
place and drops the wood in a pile on the hearth. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 93 

The FISHERMAN turns to the door as she comes 
in, speaking anxiously.) 
Is he comin ? 

GIRL 

Doctor Wright s gone over to Jug Neck an won t 
be back till to-morrow. I foun a docto at oP man 
Stokes s though. He come thar to-day from Raleigh. 
He s comin . (She hangs her shawl on a hook behind 
the door and goes to the SICK WOMAN.) Is it bad? 
(The SICK WOMAN groans.) 

FISHERMAN 
Did you see the ol oman ? 

GIRL 

Naw. Is she gone? 

FISHERMAN 
Been gone bout an hour. 

GIRL 
Which way d she go ? 

FISHERMAN 
Toward the inlet. 

GIRL 
(She rises from bending over the SICK WOMAN and 

goes to the door for her shawl.) 
M . . . hm. Time she was back. I ll go hunt er. 



94 OFF NAGS HEAD 

FISHERMAN 

Wait. Maybe she ll come in in a minute. I ll go 
hunt. How high is the tide now ? 

GIRL 

(Hangs up her shawl again but speaks anxiously) 
Them stakes fo Jones s shack is covered an it s 
washin up under the seine racks. 

FISHERMAN 
M . . . hm. Purty bad. 

GIRL 
An it s so misty you can t see the Topsail Light. 

(She goes to the fireplace and crouches there, 
warming her hands.) 

FISHERMAN 

Huh. This is a worse storm n we ve had in a long 
time. 

(He goes to the door and looks out. The bell 
buoy clangs.) 

GIRL 

Listen to that bell buoy. It makes me feel so quar. 
(She shivers.) 

FISHERMAN 

Don you take on like that. The ol* oman s bad 
enough. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 95 

GIRL 
(She takes an old, round, iron kettle and fills it with 

water from the bucket by the door} 
She s been bad all day like she was las storm we 
had when she tried to jump ofFn the landin ! She 
might try again. We better look for er. 

(She hangs the kettle over the fire and crosses 
to the SICK WOMAN.) 

FISHERMAN 
I reckon so. You look out for yo ma. 

GIRL 

The oF oman s been a-doin like she done that day 
when she tried to run in the surf with the picter. 

FISHERMAN 

Has she? (As though he doesn t quite understand 
why.) She sets a lot o store by that picter. 

GIRL 

Fm kind o skeered she ll do somethin bad some 
day. 

FISHERMAN 

She ain t gonna jump in the surf no more. Not on 
a col night like this un. You take care o yo ma thar. 
I ll hunt th other un. (He starts toward the door 
and opens it. The OLD WOMAN is seen outside just 
coming in. She has been tall and might have been 
imperious. She speaks with a more refined accent than 
the others. She is demented and they humor her. The 
FISHERMAN speaks to her from the doorway.) Well, , 



96 OFF NAGS HEAD 

we was jest a-cornin to look fo you! Thought you 

might a fallen overboard or sumpthin . 

(He sits down again by the fire. The GIRL 
takes the OLD WOMAN S shawl from her shoul 
ders and hangs it by the fireplace to dry. The 
OLD WOMAN does not seem to notice the others 
but speaks as though to herself.) 

OLD WOMAN 
I ve had so much to do. 

FISHERMAN 

Well, now that s bad. You mustn t work too hard. 
It s bad for you. 

OLD WOMAN 

It s better to work than to think. (She smiles in a 
vague sort of way. Her eyes are expressionless.) 
There are times when I think and I hear things. They 
keep calling me on the boat and the bell buoy rings 

GIRL 

(To the FISHERMAN) 
Ain t it time the doctor was comin ? 

OLD WOMAN 

I see many things. There is the cheery crowd on 
the boat and they keep calling, for all is dark and 
everything reels the light comes close and all is dark 
again. Listen! my baby boy calls the water roars 
and we all get wet. . . . But I still have my work. 
I must not jg ve up I still have my child and my pic- 




Elizabeth Taylor as THE OLD WOMAN in Off A ag s Head or The Bell uoy y a 
tragedy of the North Carolina Coast, by Dougald MacMillan. 
THE OLD WOMAN: There are times when I think and I hear things. They 
keep calling me on the boat and the bell buoy rings .... but I still 
have my work. I must not give up. I still have my child and my picture 

to work for. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 97 

ture to work for. (She goes toward the curtained por 
trait.) My dead boy and you (She pulls the curtain 
aside, displaying the beautiful old painting. Her voice 
is more cheerful and less troubled as she speaks to the 
FISHERMAN.) It is a picture of me! Don t you think 
it is good ? It was done by the best artist. I am taking 
it to my father in New York. 

FISHERMAN 
(Humoring her) 
Yes, yes. You done tol us that a lot o times. 

GIRL 

(To the FISHERMAN) 
I wonder why the doctor ain t come. 

OLD WOMAN 

(Interrupting and still speaking to the FISHERMAN) 
So I have so I have. Well, I must keep on work 
ing. I ve had a message from my father. (More 
brightly.) I m going to leave soon. (She starts 
toward the room at the right, then turns to the FISHER 
MAN, speaking anxiously.) Take care of her. Don t 
let anyone get her. (Speaking to the portrait.) I am 
going to take you with me when I go to New York to 
see my father. (She goes out, glancing back from the 
door at the portrait.) I m coming back soon. 

FISHERMAN 

She s so scared someun s gonna steal her picter. . . . 
Is the lamp lit in thar? 



98 OFF NAGS HEAD 

GIRL 

Yeah. I lit it. (There is a knock on the door.) It 
must be the new doctor. 

(She opens the door and the DOCTOR comes in. 
He is an elderly man, wearing a long cloak and 
carrying a satchel. His manner is brisk and 
cheerful and he is rather talkative t the old fam 
ily doctor type. 

FISHERMAN 
Come in. 

DOCTOR 

Thank you. I had some trouble finding the house. 
There is so much mist you can t see very well. I 
believe this is the worst storm I ever saw. 

FISHERMAN 

Yeah. It s bad. You can t even see the Topsail 
Light. 

DOCTOR 

(Taking off his hat and cloak and laying them on a 

chair by the fire) 

Do you often have storms like this one ? This is my 
first trip down here. Mr. Stokes asked me down to go 
fishing with him. 

FISHERMAN 
This un is right bad. 

DOCTOR 
Now, where is the sick woman? 



OFF NAGS HEAD 99 

FISHERMAN 
(Pointing to the bed) 
Here. 

DOCTOR 
Oh, yes! Your wife? 

FISHERMAN 
Yes, suh. 

DOCTOR 

(Sitting by the bed) 
How do you feel? 

(The SICK WOMAN moans.) 

FISHERMAN 

She don say nothin . She s got a misery in her 
chist. 

DOCTOR 
I see. How long has she been this way? 

FISHERMAN 
Since this mornin . 

DOCTOR 
(To the GIRL, who stands by the door to the next 

room) 
Will you bring me some water, please. 

(She goes out. He opens his satchel and takes 
out a bottle, pouring some medicine into the 
cup which the GiRL brings him, and gives it to 
the sick woman to drink. The FISHERMAN and 



ioo OFF NAGS HEAD 

the GIRL look on in silence. He speaks reas 
suringly.) 

She ll be comfortable in a few minutes. It is not 
serious this time, but she must not work too hard. 

(He rises and crosses to the fireplace for his 
cloak.) 

FISHERMAN 

Will you set down an rest yourself an git dry? It s 
a long walk back to Stokes s. 

DOCTOR 
Why, thank you, I believe I will. 

(They sit before the fire and light their pipes. 
The GIRL goes out.) 

FISHERMAN 
You ain t been here befo , Doctor? 

DOCTOR 

No. This is my first trip. I ve always wanted to 
come but never had a chance before. There are lots 
of interestin tales told about your beaches and islands 
around here. 

FISHERMAN 
Yeah. I reckon thar s a lot o* tales. 

DOCTOR 

Captain Kidd is said to have buried money on every 
island on the coast. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 101 

FISHERMAN 

Yes, suh. Right over thar on Haw s Hammock my 
pa dug up a chist. 

DOCTOR 
Was there anything in it? 

FISHERMAN 
No. 

(He smiles.) 

DOCTOR 

That s often the way. (He laughs, then stops to 
listen to the wind, which is increasing in volume and 
intensity.) Listen to that! This would be a good 
night for the land pirates that used to be around here. 
Did you know any of them ? 

FISHERMAN 
I don know what you mean. 

DOCTOR 

Oh, is that so? Why, they say there used to be a 
band of men around here that hung lights on a horse s 
head and drove the horse down the beach. From a 
distance it looked like a ship. Ships at sea were often 
fooled by it and ran aground. When they did, the men 
on shore plundered them and killed the crew. That s 
how Nags Head got its name. 

FISHERMAN 

(Showing some confusion) 
Is that right? 



102 OFF NAGS HEAD 

DOCTOR 

Why, you are old enough to know about that. I m 
surprised that you didn t know some of those old 
rascals. 

FISHERMAN 
(Turning away) 
We don t talk much in these parts. 

DOCTOR 

(Becoming interested in his tale) 
A very famous case, I remember one that has been 
talked about for a long time. I heard it from my 
mother, was that of a boat named the ... The 
Patriot. She was bound for New York from George 
town, I believe. An illustrious lady, Theodosia Burr, 
was on board the daughter of Aaron Burr. The 
boat disappeared somewhere along this coast. That 
was about fifty years ago, and none of the crew has 
been heard of since. (The FISHERMAN is silent, look- 
in? into the fire. The DOCTOR rises.) Well, let s 
have another look at the patient. I ll have to get back 
pretty soon. Stokes gets me out early these days to 
get the blue fish on the right time o the tide. 

(He knocks out his pipe against the chimney 
and turns toward the bed. The FISHERMAN 
rises. The OLD WOMAN enters unnoticed, 
crosses to the fireplace and stands there watch 
ing the others. The DOCTOR starts to the bed 
but stops suddenly, astonished. He has seen 
the portrait!) 
Why, hello, what s that? 



OFF NAGS HEAD 103 

FISHERMAN 



What? 



DOCTOR 
The portrait. Where did it come from ? 

FISHERMAN 

Oh, we found it on a derelict that drifted in one 
day. 

DOCTOR 

(Becoming excited) 

Why that looks like the picture that was on The 
Patriot. I remember distinctly, I once saw a copy of 
the lost portrait. It must be the portrait of Theodosia 
Burr! 

(The OLD WOMAN watches them intently.) 

FISHERMAN 
Who s she? 

DOCTOR 

The woman that was lost. Where were the crew 
and passengers on the boat? 

FISHERMAN 

I don* recollect no people on *er. I reckon thar 
wan t no people on er. 

DOCTOR 
Where were they? 

FISHERMAN 
I don know. 



104 OFF NAGS HEAD 

DOCTOR 
Was the boat named The Patriot f 



FISHERMAN 

I can t say, cause I don exactly know. She might a 
been The Patriot or she might a been the Mary Ann 
I can t say. 

(He has become sullen.) 

DOCTOR 
Come, now. Tell me about it. 

FISHERMAN 

I don know no more. We jest found it. 
(He turns away.) 

DOCTOR 

Then I must have the portrait. I m sure it s the key 
to the Theodosia Burr mystery. Will you sell it? 

(The OLD WOMAN watches him, frightened.) 

FISHERMAN 
(Looking at her) 

I dunno as how we would. We sets a lot o* store by 
that picter. 

DOCTOR 
I ll pay you for it. How much do you want? 

(He starts to take the picture from the wall. 
The OLD WOMAN, who has been moving 
toward it, seizes his arm, excitedly.) 



OFF NAGS HEAD 105 

OLD WOMAN 

Sell her ! Sell my picture ! She is one of the things 
I work for my dead boy and my picture. You shall 
not take them from me. (She lifts the portrait from 
its place and holds it tightly in her arms, talking to it.) 
I am taking you to my father in New York. He 
wants it. (More wildly, speaking to the DOCTOR.) 
You shan t have it. ... They shan t take you from 
me. ... It is all that I have. I ve been cruelly 
treated. My baby boy died. He is out there. . . . 
(She points to the sea.) He often calls me to come to 
him but I must stay here, for I still have my picture 
to work for. 

(She turns away.) 

DOCTOR 
Who are you ? 

OLD WOMAN 

(Smiling. She seems to look at something far away) 
Ah. ... 

DOCTOR 

Who are you? What do you know about the pic 
ture? It must be a portrait of Theodosia Burr! 

OLD WOMAN 

Burr? Theodosia Burr? (Almost frenzied as she 
suddenly remembers her identity.) Why, she s the 
person that I stand for ! I ve been thinking she keeps 
talking to me. That s who I stand for ! 



106 OFF NAGS HEAD 

DOCTOR 
What? 

FISHERMAN 
(With a significant nod) 
Don* mind her. She ain t right. 

OLD WOMAN 

I must be going now. They are tired of waiting. 
I ve stayed here long enough. . . . I m coming, 
father. 

(She starts to go into the next room.) 

DOCTOR 

(Stepping in front of the door, he speaks gently) 
Where are you going? 

OLD WOMAN 

(Turning back into the room) 

Maybe the boat s fixed now. I wonder where the 
others are. 

DOCTOR 
(Persuasively) 
Yes, tell us where the others are. 

OLD WOMAN 

Oh, I remember. They re gone. They were killed. 
Hush, don t you hear them . . . listen! . . . They 
took all the things on the boat, but I have saved you. 
(She clasps the picture closer and stares before her.) 
It was an awful storm like this one. A false light, we 
ran on the beach. It was horrible! Yes . . . yes, 
they were there they, they killed them all ! 



OFF NAGS HEAD 107 

DOCTOR 

Yes, yes! Don t get excited. We ll fix everything 
all right. Don t let it worry you. Sit down and tell 
us all about it. 

OLD WOMAN 

(Moving to the right of the room) 
I am going away very soon now. ... I saw a 
sign to-day. I have been sent for. They have sent for 
me to come to see my father in New York. He has 

been waiting so long. I must go 

(She goes out into the adjoining room, mutter 
ing. The DOCTOR turns to the FISHERMAN.) 

DOCTOR 
What do you know about this? 

FISHERMAN 
Nothin , I tol* you. 

DOCTOR 
How did she get here ? 

FISHERMAN 

We took er in one time. 
(He speaks sullenly.) 

DOCTOR 

Yes, but where did she come from? You know 
more about this, and you re going to tell me. If you 
don t, I ll have you arrested on suspicion. You ll be 
tried and maybe you ll be hanged. Now, tell me what 
you know. 



io8 OFF NAGS HEAD 

FISHERMAN 

Wait (He is beginning to be afraid) I don t 
know nothin , I tol you. 

DOCTOR 

( Threateningly ) 
Yes, you do. Do you want to get into court? 

FISHERMAN 
No! No! 

DOCTOR 

(Raising his voice) 
Then tell me what you know about it. I ll 



FISHERMAN 
(Interrupting) 

Be quiet, I ll tell you. Don make no noise . . . 
I was a boy . . . they used to hang a lantern on a 
horse . . . then when the ship run aground they got 
all the stuff ofFn er . . . 

DOCTOR 
Land pirates! I thought you knew! Go on. 

FISHERMAN 
That s all. 

DOCTOR 
What became of the people on these boats ? 

FISHERMAN 
They got drownded. 



OFF NAGS HEAD 109 

DOCTOR 
How ? Don t take so long. 

FISHERMAN 
Jes drownded. 

DOCTOR 
Did you kill them ? 

FISHERMAN 
No. They was jes drownded. 

DOCTOR 

And where did the old woman and the portrait 
come from? 

FISHERMAN 

They was on one o the boats an we took em in. 
She ain t been right in er head sence. Her baby boy 
died that night. 

DOCTOR 

Where did she go? I want to talk to her again. 
(He goes toward the door.) 

FISHERMAN 
You ain t a-goin t 

DOCTOR 
(Interrupting) 

No, I won t send you to jail. Go get the old 
woman. 

(He moves to the fireplace.) 



no OFF NAGS HEAD 

FISHERMAN 

She went in thar. (He goes to the door and looks 
into the next room.) She ain t in thar now. 

DOCTOR 
Then where could she be? 

FISHERMAN 
I dunno. 

(The GIRL comes in, very much excited and 
frightened. She enters by the door at the back 
and as she opens it the roar of the surf and the 
ringing of the bell buoy may be heard mort 
distinctly.) 

GIRL 

I tried to stop er, but she jest went on! I can t 
do nothin with er. 

DOCTOR 
What do you mean ? 

GIRL 

She run out a-huggin that picter. I couldn t stop 
er. She said she was goin away! 

FISHERMAN 
Where did she go ? 

GIRL 

I dunno. She s been so bad all day, a-talkin bout 
the bell buoy a-ringin for er (She goes to the 
FISHERMAN.) I m skeered o what she ll do! 



OFF NAGS HEAD in 

(Above the roar of the surf can be heard 
faintly but clearly, a high-pitched, distant cry.) 

DOCTOR 
What s that? 

FISHERMAN 
I dunno . . . 



GIRL 

I wonder if it s . . . 

(The DOCTOR and FISHERMAN go to the door at 
the back) 

DOCTOR 
We d better go look for her. 

FISHERMAN 

(As they run out into the darkness across the beach) 
I hope she ain t . . . 

(The GIRL stands in the open door watching 
them. The SICK WOMAN moans. The roar of 
the surf and the ringing of the bell buoy are 
heard more distinctly. After a moment the 
FISHERMAN comes in, breathless and wild- 
eyed.) 

FISHERMAN 

Gi* me the lantern! She s run in the surf an it 
a-bilin . 



ii2 OFF NAGS HEAD 

GIRL 
(Taking the lighted lantern from a nail by the 

fireplace) 

She said the bell was a-ringin for er. ... Is 
she ... 

FISHERMAN 

(Takes the lantern, pausing a moment in the doorway) 
She s drownded ! She done washed ashore ! 

(The FISHERMAN goes out and the light from 
his lantern disappears in the night. As the 
GlR L stands in the doorway looking toward the 
sea, the bell buoy can still be heard above the 
storm.) 



CURTAIN 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 1 

A Play of the Croatan Outlaws of Robeson County, 
North Carolina. 

BY 
PAUL GREENE 



i Copyright, 1922, by The Carolina Playmakers, Inc. All rights 
reserved. Permission to produce this play may be secured by address 
ing Frederick H. Koch, Director, The Carolina Playmakers, Inc., 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 



CAST OF CHARACTERS 

As originally produced at The Play-House, Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina, April 30 and May I, 1920. 

CUMBA LOWRIE, the aged mother of the Lowries, 

Elizabeth Taylor 

JANE, her daughter, Ruth Penny 

MAYNO, Cumba s daughter-in-law, Rachel Freeman 
HENRY BERRY LOWRIE, last of the outlaw gang, 

Ernest Nieman 
SCENE: The rough home of the Lowrie gang in 

Scuffletown, a swampy region of Robeson County, 

North Carolina. 
TIME : A night in the winter of the year 1874. 



SCENE 

f^TJHE kitchen of the Lowrie home. 

i The interior is that of a rude dwelling built 
-*- of rough-hewn timbers. At the right front is 
a fireplace in which a fire is burning. Pots and pans 
are hung around the fireplace. A rocking chair ..is 
drawn up in front of the fire. At the right rear is a 
cupboard. At the centre rear a door leads outside. 
Above it are several fishing poles and a net resting on 
pegs fitted into the joists. To the rear at the left is a 
loom with a piece of half-finished cloth in it. A door 
in the centre of the left wall leads into an adjoining 
room. To the right of it is a window. At the front on 
that side is a chest. In the centre of the room is a 
rough, oblong eating-table and several home-made 
chairs with cowhide bottoms. A spinning-wheel stands 
at the front left. On the table is an unlighted candle 
in a tin holder. 

The play opens with MAYNO LOWRIE spinning at 
the wheel. She stops, folds her hands aimlessly across 
her lap, and stares idly into the fire. She is a full- 
blooded Croatan, about twenty-five years old, of 
medium height with skin a tan color, almost copper, 
prominent cheek bones, short flat nose, and black shifty 
eyes. Her coarse raven hair is wound into a knot at 
the back of her head. She is dressed in a polka-dot 
calico. Her shoes are somewhat heavy but comfortable 
117 



u8 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

looking. Around her neck she wears a string of shiny 
glass beads. Several cheap rings adorn her hands. 

For a moment she sits idle, and then begins to spin 
lazily, at almost every revolution of the wheel stop 
ping to glance at the rear door, then at the door to the 
left, as if expecting someone to enter. She listens. 
From afar off comes the lone hoot of an owl. She shakes 
her head and starts the wheel going again. Then she 
goes to the fireplace, turns the bread in the spider and 
with a long-handled spoon stirs the peas in the pot. 
After this she goes back to her chair at the wheel. 

Three knocks are heard at the rear door. MAYNO 
hurries to remove the bar. JANE LOWRIE enters with 
a bundle under her arm. She throws the bundle on 
the table, takes off her bonnet and cape and hangs them 
on a peg near the door at the left. MAYNO goes to the 
bundle, stares at it half curiously and fearfully. JANE 
comes to the fire without speaking. She is a tall 
Croatan girl, dressed more plainly than MAYNO in a 
dress of homespun, with no ornaments. Her shoes are 
covered with mud. She is about twenty years old, with 
heavy black hair, light tan-colored skin, and regular 
features. Her face is more open and intelligent than 
MAYNO S. Her whole figure expresses weariness. She 
looks anxoiusly at the door of the adjoining room, then 
turns to MAYNO. 

JANB 

Has she asked for me ? 

MAYNO 
Not but once. I tol her you d stepped over to 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 119 

Pate s for a little flour, and she seemed to pearten up 
at that. Said mebbe they d be a letter from the boys 
way yander. 

(She smiles scornfully. Still standing at the 
table, she looks at the package. CUMBA s voice 
is heard calling from the room at the left.) 

CUMBA 
Jane, Jane, is that ye? 

JANE 

(Going to the door at the left) 
Yes, muh, I m jes back from Pate s with the flour. 

CUMBA 
All right, honey. 

(JANE goes into the room. Their voices can 
be heard indistinctly. MAYNO looks at the 
package, reaches and touches it. Then she tears 
a hole in the paper, peers at it intently and 
draws away. JANE comes back.) 

JANE 

Mayno, they re . . . his n! 

MAYNO 
Whose ? . . . Yes, they must he his n. 

JANE 

(Lighting a candle and placing it on the table) 
Yes, Mayno, they s Steve s all right. 



120 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

MAYNO 
How d you git em, chile? 

JANE 

I got em from the sheriff. 

MAYNO 

And I thought you were goin to see Henry Berry 
bout Steve s money and find where they put im. 

(She opens the package and takes out a coat, a 
pair of trousers, and a black felt hat. The gar- 
ments are slashed and stiff with blood.) 

JANE 

I did two hours proguing down through the black 
swamps an the bramble br ars, and when I foun Henry 
Berry he said them sher frs what killed Steve got his 
money, and as for where they put im, nobody knows. 
(CuMBA is heard groaning as she turns in her bed. 
JANE lowers her voice.) And then I went to the 
sheriff for his clothes. I knowed that some day when 
she (Nodding to the room at the left) finds it out 
she ll be wantin his clothes, them she made with her 
own hands like th others. And the sheriff wouldn t 
tell me where they buried im. 

MAYNO 

Took his money, did they? That s the way with 
them white folks. They do all they kin agin us poor 
Croatons, cause we s jes injuns, they says though we 
knows better. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 121 

JANE 

They don t hold nothin agin us; hit s agin the 
boys. 

MAYNO 

They killed yo* daddy and William and Tom and 
Steve for being robbers and cut-throats and they rob 
bers and cut-throats theyselves. (Fiercely.) And me 
needing new dresses and the like. But they s one left 
they won t git, the last an best of em all. The day 
they lays Henry Berry cold they ll be more of em 
got than has been. 

JANE 

(Wearily) 

Hush, Mayno; with your jawing you d wake the 
dead. She ll hear you. 

MAYNO 

(Throwing down the clothes and coming to the fire) 
Well, why you want to keep pushing trouble from 
her? What s the good o it? She ll find it out some 
how. She s suffered now til you cain t hurt her no 
more. And ain t I suffered too, with my man dead on 
me ? What call has she got to ... 

JANE 

No, we ain t a-goin to tell her now. She ain t got 
much longer, and let her keep on b lieving Steve and 
Henry Berry s safe in Georgy. No, they ain t no use 
o letting her on to it now. 

(JANE sits at the spinning-wheel.) 



122 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

MAYNO 

(Vehemently) 

Ain t Henry Berry going to try to git them sher fEs 
back for killing Steve? If I s a outlaw like him I d 
a done paid em. And he ll pay em, too! He s the 
best o the Lowries and he ll venge them that s been 
murdered in cold blood like Steve and the rest. 

JANE 

No, Mayno, he won t nuther. His time s drawin 
nigh. He knows it. They re settin for him every 
where. They s men watchin this house to-night. I 
seen it in his face to-day that he s layin down. He 
was wrong from the first. He knows it now. 

MAYNO 

What s that! 

JANE 

Yes, he s a-quittin , but if them sheriffs hadn t agged 
him on ten years ago when he wanted to quit and be 
quiet he d a been livin in peace here to-night. But 
it s too late now. Too many men s been killed. And 
he s putting up his guns at the last. They ll git him 
fore many days. ... He tol me so. 

MAYNO 

You re a-lyin , gal. You know he s goin to scorch 
em with his spite and bring em down for Steve, him 
as was the strappingest man o the gang. It ain t his 
way to be a-backing down and not pay em. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 123 

JANE 

No, he ain t. He s a-puttin it by, I tell you. 
They ll ketch him fore long. 

MAYNO 

Then what you goin* to do bout her in there ? You 
cain t keep on a-foolin her forever with your letters 
and money and mess from Georgy. 

JANE 

Well, we c n fool er till she gits better, cain t we? 
And if she don t git better, then she ll go out happier, 
won t she ... believin Steve and Henry Berry s safe 
and livin as they ought (She rises and goes to the 
cupboard) she so old and fearful at the door hinge 
skreaking and the red rooster crowing a- fore the glim 
o dawn, you know, Mayno. 

(She brings some butter and the molasses pot 
from the cupboard, takes the spider from the 
fire and puts supper on the table.) 

MAYNO 

Well, go on if you will, but you cain t keep it up 
much longer. It ll be jes like I said. Henry Berry ll 
come broozin* around some night. Sposcn so? 

JANE 

(Frightened) 

You reckon he d do that. . . . No he couldn t. I 
tol him about how it was with her, and besides he 
knows the house is watched. 



124 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

MAYNO 

(Shaking her head) 

I dunno. He mought. You know the time he 
slipped through a whole passel o them sher ffs jes to 
come here and git a shirt she d made im? And by 
this time he must be a-wantin to see her powerful bad. 

JANE 

( Terrified) 

You reckon he will? No, he won t! He couldn t 
do that. (Old CUMBA is heard calling JANE.) Put 
them things in the sack with th others, Mayno, and 
put em in the bottom, too. You c n be fixin her sup 
per while I ten to er. (She goes into the rear room. 
MAYNO takes up the clothes, opens the chest at the 
left, pulls out a bulky burlap sack and crams the 
trousers, shirt and hat into it. Shutting the chest, she 
goes to the cupboard, takes out three plates and some 
knives and forks and lays them on the table. Then 
she begins preparing CUMBA S supper on a plate. JANE 
comes to the door and speaks.) You needn t bring her 
supper in here, Mayno, she s going to git up, she says. 
(JANE goes back into the room. MAYNO shrugs her 
shoulders, sits down and begins to eat. JANE comes 
in supporting old CUMBA. She speaks to MAYNO.) 
Fix her chair by the fire, Mayno. 

MAYNO 

(Rising reluctantly from the table) 
Gimme time, cain t you? 

(She pulls CUMBA S chair nearer to the fire. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 125 

CUMBA is a bent, emaciated old woman, about 
seventy years of age. Her face is scarred with 
suffering. She is a mixture of Negro and Por 
tugese, somewhat darker than JANE. She is 
very feeble and shakes with palsy.) 

CUMBA 

(Pausing, as JANE leads her to the fire) 
Did you say they warn t nary letter from the boys 
way out thar ? 

JANE 
(Looking at MAYNO as she settles CUMBA in her 

chair ) 

No m, there warn t no letter this time, but they ll be 
one soon. You see they cain t write often, not yit. 
They mought be ketched on account of it. Tain t 
quite time for another n yit. 

CUMBA 

Mebbe so, mebbe so. But I thought they mought 
a been one. How long is it they been out thar, chile? 



JANE 

(Placing the plate of food on her lap) 
Two months now, muh. And they s livin straight 
and spectable, too. And twon t be long fore the big 
Governor ll pardon em, and they ll come back to you, 
and you ll be happy agin. 



126 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

CUMBA 
(Brightening) 

And I ll be at the loom then, a-weavin em the good 
shirts, won t I ? And they ll be working in the fields 
and comin home to a good dinner, won t they? And 
at night Henry Berry ll be a-playin of his banjo like 
old times, won t he? (She stops suddenly. All the 
brightness goes out of her face. She lets her knife fall 
to her plate.) But they won t be but two of em, will 
there, Janie? Jes two. When thar was Allen, my 
old man they shot im over thar in the corner. (She 
turns and points.) They s a blood spot thar now. 
Then thar was Willie and Tom. And they ain t no 
tellin how they put im away, chile . . . chile . . . 

JANE 

Now, muh, you mustn t do that! Eat your supper. 
You got to git well, time Steve and Henry Berry gits 
back. They s allus grief with the children going, but 
you still got two of the boys and me. 

(JANE butters a piece of bread and hands it 
to her.) 

CUMBA 

Mebbe so, mebbe so, chile. But . . . (She stops.) 
Whar s that letter that come from the boys last month ? 
I wants it read agin. 

JANE 

But, muh, you got to eat. I ll read it after while. 
Let me fry you a egg. 

(MAYNO leaves the table and begins spinning at 
the wheel.) 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 127 

CUMBA 

I ain t hongry, chile. Take them thar rations and 
put em back and read me the letter. It s enough to 
hear it ... hearin that the last of my boys is safe 
and ca m and livin once more as I d lak em to. 

JANE 
Well, I ll git it then. 

(She goes, searches in the cupboard, and at last 
draws out a greasy envelope. From this she 
takes a sheet of paper and comes back to old 
CUMBA.) 

CUMBA 

Read it, honey. It s the blessin of the Lord that I s 
spared to learn that two o my boys is shet of sin. But 
they s been a heap o blood spilt, chile, a heap o blood 
spilt . . . but they s been more tears spilt by they ol 
mammy, too, and mebbe at last they ll ketch a chance 
to come back to her. Read it, chile. 

JANE 

(Glancing at MAYNO and then looking at the letter) 
They says they s a-gitting along well and makin 
money an . . . 

CUMBA 
Don t read it like that. Read what they says ! 

JANE 
Well, I ll read it then. 

(She pretends to read.) 



128 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

"Dear Mammy: 

"We writes to let you know we re in Qeorgy at last, 
safe an sound. We re both workin in a store an 
makin good money. They ain t nobody knows what 
we done back there, an the people is good to us. 
Twon t be long fore the Governor ll pardon us, and 
we can come back and take care o you. 
"Your loving sons, 

"Steve and Henry Berry." 

CUMBA 

You left out somethin , child. Don t you know they 
sent some money with the letter and they spoke 
about it. 

JANE 

(Confused) 

Yes m, that s right. I forgot it. It s on the other 
side, mammy. Yes m, here it is. It says, "We re 
sendin you twenty dollars to buy meat and flour with." 

CUMBA 

Good boys they is, they ain t never meant no harm. 
Willie and Tom was jes that-a-way. Every cent they 
used to make a-hoein cbtton roun they d give it to 
they ol mammy, an the good Lord knows whar they s 
sleepin to-night ... but they s two spared me an I 
hadn t ought to complain, I reckon. Is the money all 
gone, Janie ? 

JANE 

No m, there s some left yit, and they ll be sending 
more in the next letter. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 129 

(She puts the letter back into the cupboard and 
begins cleaning up the dishes. Old CUMBA 
leans back in her chair, gazing into the fire. The 
hooting of an owl is heard. She stirs uneasily 
in her chair. MAYNO and JANE stop their 
work and listen. They both look at each other 
and then glance at old CUMBA, who is trem 
bling and gripping the arms of her chair. JANE 
begins to rattle the dishes. MAYNO spins 
rapidly.) 

CUMBA 

(Turning to JANE) 
Ain t that a owl squeechin , Jane? 

JANE 

(Looking at MAYNO) 
What? ... I ... I don t hear nothin . 
(The hooting is heard again.) 

CUMBA 
Ain t that it agin? 

MAYNO 

Aw, it s nothin but that oP swamp owl. He hollers 
most every night. Don t take on bout it. 
(She shivers and stirs the fire.) 

CUMBA 

(Shrilly) 

It sounds like some o my boys a-makin o they sig 
nals down thar in the night; but tain t them though. 



i 3 o THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

The only two that s left is a long ways off, and mebbe 
won t never come back. 

JANE 

Now, they will too. 

CUMBA 

Way back yonder I loved to see em round me 
here, the warm fire a-burnin and Allen thar a-working 
at his gear, and them that was little uns then a-playing 
on the floor. I didn t mind it them times. (Her 
voice grows shriller.) And now where are they? My 
ol man and all the house gone from me. 

MAYNO 

Aw, Ma Lowrie, what s the use of all them carry- 
ing-ons? You reckon you re the only one that s had 
trouble in this world ? 

CUMBA 

And when the rain and the wind come raring down 
and the cypress trees is moanin in the dark and the 
owls a-honing through the night, I think on them three 
lyin dead thar in the woods and the water washin over 
them, and me with nothin but their clothes to remem 
ber on and show for them I was prided for. 

(Again the hooting of the owl is heard. JANE 
leaves the dishes suddenly and comes to the fire, 
lays more wood on, furtively wiping the tears 
from her eyes. CUMBA still looks in the fire.) 



JANE 
It s time for you to lay down now. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 131 

CUMBA 

(Without noticing her) 

At times in the dark night I dream on em and they 
ain t nothin happened and it s all like it used to be, 
and then I wake a-callin , and they don t answer, for 
they re sleepin out naked in the cold. 

MAYNO 

(Shrugging her shoulders) 

Jes listen at her! Ma Lowrie, cain t you be quiet 
a bit? (Lowering her voice.) Lord, you re as 
techous as an old hen ! 

JANE 

(Half sobbing) 

What makes you carry on like that ? It cain t do no 
good. Ain t Henry Berry toF you a hundred times 
that he s buried all three of em down thar in the 
swamp. And he s skeered to tell the place for fear 
them sher ffs ll dig em up and git the money for em. 
Don t take on so. They s put away with praying like 
any Christians ought to be, and you d better lie down 
now. 

(She looks at MAYNO.) 

CUMBA 

Yes, they mought be buried in the swamp down thar, 
and when it rains the river rises and washes over em, 
them that used to pull at my dress when I was at the 
wash But Old Master sends the sun and the rain, 
and the Book says we ought to be satisfied. ( The owl s 



132 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

hoot is heard again. CUMBA looks at the door and 
shivers.) Help me in now, chile. I didn t mean to 
say all that, but I m done. An ol woman s heart is a 
foolish thing ... a foolish thing. . . . 

(JANE helps her into the room at the left. A 
moment later she reappears. She looks at 

MAYNO inquisitively.) 

i 

MAYNO 
Sounded like Henry Berry s hootin , didn t it? 

JANE 

Yes, I m afraid it s him, after all I tol him. Oh, 
what makes him do it? But it s like I said. He s 
givin in now, he s quittin at the last. And he s set 
on seein her once more or it s some of his quair no 
tions, somethin he s wrapped up in gittin . 

(Three knocks are heard at the door. JANE 
runs and lifts the heavy bar, and HENRY BERRY 
LOWRIE walks in.) 

MAYNO 
Henry Berry! 

(He starts to speak but JANE lays her finger on 
her lips and leads him towards the fire. He 
takes off his hat and bows wearily to MAYNO. 
He is a man of handsome personal appear 
ance. The color of his skin is a mixed white 
and yellowish brown, almost copper-colored. 
Just below his left eye is a crescent-shaped scar. 
Despite the look of weariness, his countenance is 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 133 

expressive in a high degree of firmness and cour 
age. His forehead is broad and high, his eyes 
large and keen, his hair thick and inclined to 
curl. He wears a black beard. From appear 
ances he is about twenty-six years of age, a little 
above medium height, well-knit, broad-shoul 
dered, and well-proportioned throughout. He 
wears a broad, black felt hat, brown corduroy 
coat, dark woolen trousers, and calf-skin boots. 
In a belt around his waist he carries two pistols. 
From this belt a strap passes upward and sup 
ports behind a repeating rifle. He also carries 
a long-bladed knife stuck in his belt. He takes 
a seat at the fire, putting his rifle in the corner, 
but retaining his other arms. JANE runs to the 
door at the rear and makes sure that it is closed 
tight. Then she hurries to HENRY BERRY. 

JANE 

Brother, what made you do it! The house is 
watched an . . . 

HENRY BERRY 

I know it, Sis, but I had to come. I m quittin . . . 
to-night. Is she asleep ? 

(He jerks his head towards the room at the 
left.) 

JANE 

No, I ve jes* helped her in. That s the reason we 
couldn t make no sign with the light. 



134 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

HENRY BERRY 

I couldn t figure what the trouble was. I hooted til 
my head hurt. But I was goin to risk it anyhow. 

JANE 

What ll she think if she sees you ! Oh, hurry and go 
away! 

HENRY BERRY 

Naw, I got to see her. After to-night twon t mat 
ter. Bring me a bite to eat, Sis. How is she ? 

MAYNO 
I reckon she s on the mend. . . . 

JANE 

(Frightened) 

Will they git you to-night? What do you mean by 
sich talk? 

HENRY BERRY 

Never mind. They ll git me ... when I m dead, 
all right, no doubt o that. I m taking the gear off at 
last. The ol man s gone, Willie and Tom s gone, and 
they got Steve last week, and I m the last o the gang. 
I m tired, damned tired of it all, Sis. 

JANE 

But I tell you, you cain t give up like that. You 
got to keep on fightin till you git a chance to git away ! 

HENRY BERRY 
Naw, it s too late now. If they d a let me, I d a 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 135 

lived straight, but after the first trouble I had to keep 
killin to live. Well, I m done killin , now . . . cept 
one man, and they ain t no use of you knowin who it 
is. You ll know soon enough. One man can t stand 
it allus, and they ll scrush him at the last. 

(JANE sits at her chair weeping softly. HENRY 
BERRY lays his hand gently on her head. Try 
ing to appear cheerful, he turns to MAYNO.) 
Mayno, bring me a bite to eat. 

(He sits at the table, facing the front. MAYNO 
gets a plate of food and puts it before him. He 
eats hungrily.) 

MAYNO 

Whar d they put im, Henry Berry? 

HENRY BERRY 

I ain t been able to find out, Mayno. Piled him in 
some of their rotten graveyards, I reckon, when he 
loved to run the woods with th other wild things like 
him. 

MAYNO 

What d they do with his money? 

HENRY BERRY 

I dunno. Got that, too, I reckon. But you needn t 
to worry. Jane! (JANE looks up.) Here, I ve fixed 
for you-all. Here s money enough to last you three 
after I m gone. 

(He stops eating and pulls a bag of money out 
of his pocket.) 



136 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

JANE 
But, brother . . . 

HENRY BERRY 

Never mind, take it and take care o her. It s the 
last thing I c n do for her and you. 

JANE 
But she won t use it, knowin how you come by it. 

HENRY BERRY 
She won t ? 

JANE 

No, she won t. She ll starve first, and you know it. 
You know all them fixin s you sent her. She give em 
all away, the stove and the stool with three legs and 
everything. And when she thought you and Steve was 
livin straight in Georgy, she give away that gold chain 
you brung her. She s feared you hadn t got it honest. 

HENRY BERRY 

(Softly) 

Yes, yes, she s allus been too good fer us. (He leaves 
the table and takes a seat near the fire.) Still that 
chain was bought honest. . . . But you three s got to 
live, ain t ye? Take that money, and don t tell er. 
(JANE puts the money in the chest.) Mayno, is my ol 
banjo still here? 

MAYNO 

Yeah, in thar. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 137 

HENRY BERRY 

I been wantin to knock her a little for a long time. 
And I want to knock her a little the las night. 

JANE 

The las night! It ain t the las night! If you d 
go now you d git away. Why do you talk like that? 
(She is interrupted by a loud cry. Old CUMBA 
stands in the door at the rear.) 

CUMBA 

It s you, it s you, Henry Berry! Come back from 
Georgy. I knowed you d come. I knowed. . . . 
(She totters to HENRY BERRY and throws her arms 
around him. He kisses her on the forehead. Her look 
is one of unmingled joy. Suddenly the hurt look comes 
back into her face.) Why you come back a-wearin of 
your guns? 

HENRY BERRY 
(Helping her to the fire) 

I m just wearin em. I didn t want to be ketched 
empty. I m leavin in a few minutes and le s us enjoy 
ourselves, and forgit about Georgy. 

CUMBA 
No, they s somethin wrong. Whar s Steve? 

HENRY BERRY 

(Looking at MAYNO and JANE) 
He s waitin for me ... out thar. 
(He points toward the swamp.) 



138 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

CUMBA 

Why didn t he come in wid you? Is he well and 
strong? How I d love to see im! 

HENRY BERRY 

One of us had to wait for th othern t, and he s all 
right. How you feelin , mammy? Is your haid bet 
ter now? 

CUMBA 

Yes, I m gittin better now. I wants to git well time 
you and Steve comes home for good. (Stroking his 
hand.) Has the Gov nor pardoned ye already? 

HENRY BERRY 

No, mammy, not jest yit. But it ll be all right 
soon. . . . Steve and me s jest passin through. . . . 
Now le s us enjoy ourselves. I got to be movin in a 
minute. Steve s waiting for me. . . . Mebbe we ll 
talk about Georgy some other time. . . . Mayno, bring 
me my ol music box. 

CUMBA 
Yes, yes, git it and let im play for me. 

(MAYNO brings the banjo from the next room. 
HENRY BERRY tunes it. CUMBA sits gazing in 
the fire, a troubled look on her face.) 

HENRY BERRY 

You want me to play bout Job s Coffin hanging in 
the sky? (Strangely.) That was Steve s piece. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 139 

JANE 

(Nervously) 

Don t, don t play that. It s too lonesome. 
(She shivers.) 



HENRY BERRY 

What piece you want me to play? 

(To CUMBA. She makes no reply. HENRY 
BERRY looks at her. He strums several bars, 
his face gradually losing its tense expression.) 

What you want me to play, muh? 



CUMBA 
Play anything. Some o the ol pieces. 

HENRY BERRY 
I ll play that piece bout poor John Hardy. 

(He plays and sings three stanzas of the ballad 
"John Hardy/ ) 



^ \? 7 7? r ^ 

John Hard - y was a mean and 



dis per . a ted man, He 



i 4 o THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 



tot - ed two guns ev . ry 



day. He shot him - self a man in 



New Or - leans Town John 



Hard - y nev . er lied to his guns, poor boy. 

He s been to the east and he s been to the west 
And he s been this wide world round, 
He s been to the river an been baptized, 
An he s been on his hanging ground, poor boy. 

John Hardy s father was standing by, 
Saying, " Johnnie, what have you done?" 
He murdered a man in the same ol town, 
You ought a-seed him a-using of his guns, poor boy. 
(He stops and gazes pensively before him.) 

CUMBA 

(Looking anxiously at HENRY BERRY) 
What s the matter, son ? You don t play it like you 
used to. 




- 



< fc 

S-S 

^ 8 -2 



32 3 

6 -ti 



r .-- - 
U 1> 3 



N W 



l 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 141 

HENRY BERRY 

It ain t nothing. I ll play yo other piece now, that 
Florelly song. 

CUMBA 
Yes, play it. Allen allus said twas a good piece. 

HENRY BERRY 



The Fair Florella 
An Old Ballad 



~= " 



Down by yon weep . ing wil . low, 



<J J . J 



Where ros - es so sweet - ly bloom, 



There sleeps the fair Flo . rel - la, 



J J U ^ J. 

So si * lent lo_ the tomb. 



142 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

She died not broken hearted, 
No sickness her befell, 
But in one moment parted 
From all she loved so well. 

Down on her knees before him, 
She begged im for her life, 
But deep into her bosom 
He plunged the fatal knife. 

(Before the last verse ends, owl hoots are heard 
outside. HENRY BERRY stops, listening. The 
banjo slips through his hands to the floor. All 
three look at him questioningly.) 

CUMBA 
What is it, boy ? Don t look that-a-way. 

(Again the hooting of an owl is heard. HENRY 
BERRY rises to his feet, takes his rifle from the 
chimney corner and stands an instant tensely 
silent. Slowly his defensive attitude changes 
to one of despair. They watch him anxiously 
as he comes back to his former place in the room, 
looks down at his banjo, makes a move as if to 
pick it up, then turns to CUMBA.) 

HENRY BERRY 

Well, I m goin . I ve sorto tried to be a fatten boy 
to you, but I reckon I made poor outs at it. 

(He bends and kisses her. She rises and clings 
to him.) 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 143 

CUMBA 

You ain t a-goin air ye? It ll be for the las time 
and I know it. 

HENRY BERRY 

Yes m, I got to go. Didn t you hear Steve s signal? 
He s a-waitin . 

(Making an indefinite motion with his hand 
toward the swamp, he loosens her hold, kisses 
JANE and makes a sign for MAYNO to follow 
him. They both go out. CUMBA wrings her 
hands and follows him toward the door. Then 
she becomes calm.) 

CUMBA 

Let him go off now, an I ll never see im agin. His 
sperit s broke and he won t be a-goin back to Georgy. 
I see it in his face that he s quittin it all. 

JANE 

No m he ain t, he s a-goin straight back. ... He 
and Steve is. 

CUMBA 

No, he ain t a-goin back. Cain t I see what s in his 
face? They ll git im and twon t be long, and then 
Steve^ ll be shot down next, and there ll be only a hand 
ful o their clothes for me to look at. (JANE weeps 
silently.) Whar s Mayno? 

JANE 
She s jes stepped out a minute. She ll be back. 



144 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

CUMBA 

Yes, and I know, they re goin to git im. They s 
a-setting for him thar in the black night.- 

JANE 

No m, they ain t, I tell you. They ll never git Henry 
Berry. (OLD CUMBA shakes her head mumbling. 
She goes to the chest at the left and takes out the burlap 
bag. The lid of the chest falls. JANE starts up.) Put 
it back, put it back. You mustn t look at em to-night. 
Come back to the fire. 

(She tries to take the bag from her.) 

CUMBA 

No, chil , I ain t. I m goin to look at all that s left 
of em. 

JANE 
Let em be! 

CUMBA 

(Waving her off) 

No, git away. Soon Henry Berry s 11 be in there, 
too. (She stops and looks at the bag.) Janie, who s 
been f oolin wi this ? What s . . . 

(She hurries to the table and holding the sack 
close to the candle, opens it. She catches hold 
of a coat sleeve and draws out Steve s coat. A 
gasping dry sound comes from her throat. She 
drops the bag and holds the coat in her trem 
bling hands.) 

It s Steve s! How came it here? It s Steve s! 
one I made im myself. 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 145 

JANE 
Oh, muh, let ... What ails you ? 

CUMBA 

I s picioned it! And they been foolin me. 

JANE 

(Hopelessly) 
Yes m, it s Steve s. 

( CUMBA sways to and fro.) 

CUMBA 

You been foolin me! You been foolin me! (She 
stands rigid for a moment, then speaks in a hard, life 
less voice.) It warn t right to fool me like that 
When d it happen ? 

JANE 

Las week. . . . They got im down on the big road 
by the swamp, an ... 

CUMBA 

Hush! Don t tell me bout it. I m afflicted and 
defeated enough now. They s only one left and they ll 
git im soon. ... Did they put Steve away like a 
man? 

JANE 
I dunno. The sheriff give is clothes to me. 

(A shot is heard in the distance, followed by a 
woman s scream.) 



146 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

CUMBA 

(Starting up and speaking in a shrill voice) 
They got im now! They got im now! The last 
un s gone! 

(She tries to go out at the door. JANE stops 
her.) 

JANE 

(Catching her by the arm) 
Don t do that! 

(CuMBA goes back to the sack, picks up STEVE S 
coat and stares at it dully.) 

CUMBA 
They tuck em all now. They tuck em all. 

JANE 
Muh, it had to come. An it s better that-a-way. 

CUMBA 
(Lifelessly) 
Better that-a-way? 

JANE 

Yes, it s better like that. They was wrong from the 
jump. 

CUMBA 

Wrong ! My boys was good boys. They ain t never 
. . . (Raising her hands above her head, she speaks 
fiercely.) May OF Master send his fires on them that 
done it! An . 



THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 147 

JANE 
{Sobbing) 
Oh, why d they do it I 

CUMBA 

No. It says as how we d ought to love em at does 
us wrong. 

(She closes her eyes, swaying slightly from side 
to side.) 

JANE 

Let me help you to lie down now! 

CUMBA 

Yes, it s better that-a-way, I reckon. (Her face 
shows resignation to sorrow. She speaks with a sort 
of joy in her voice.) An I won t be livin in hope and 
fear no mo , will I? (Slowly.) And when the owls 
hoot through the swamp at night, and the whippoor- 
wills sing in the thicket at dark, I won t have cause 
to think that s one o my own a-givin of is signals, an 
tryin to slip back to is oP home, the only place he loves, 
will I ? (She drops down into the chair behind the 
table.) An I won t lie awake at night, thinkin they re 
in danger ... for He s done give em His peace at 
last. 

(MAYNO enters running. Old CUMBA stands 
up.) 

MAYNO 

He shot isself. He shot isself! He give me this 
coat to give to you, an then the sheriffs crope from the 



148 THE LAST OF THE LOWRIES 

thicket at im, but he shot isself fore they got to im, 

and they tuck im and toted im off! 

(She drops into her chair exhausted, rocking to 
and fro. Old CUMBA takes the coat from her, 
looks at it, and then puts it in the sack. She 
puts STEVE S coat in also and stands looking 
down at the bag.) 

CUMBA 
That s all that s left o them I loved ... a bundle 

o clothes to show for my man an four grown sons. 

(She stops an instant.) You ll all sleep quiet at last. 

(She stands a moment silent, then shrilly.) But they re 

all gone, and what call hev I got to be living more. . . . 
(She raises her hand as if in a curse. But her 
face softens, and as the curtain falls, she stands 
with both hands outstretched on the clothes, 
blessing them.^ 

1 It is interesting to note that the actual story (see Introduction 
page xxyiii) of the old Lowrie mother somewhat parallels that of 
Maurya in Synge s Riders to the Sea. In the one case the mother 
sees her sons sacrificed before the power of the law. In the other she 
sees them claimed by the terribleness of the sea. So far as the suffer 
ing is concerned, the forces in both cases might be the same. 



APPENDIX 

THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

Observations on the Pronunciation of the Dialects of 
North Carolina 

With a few obvious exceptions, the personages de 
picted in the dramas here printed speak one or another 
of the dialects used by the uncultured whites and 
negroes of North Carolina. In connection with this 
effort to utilize for dramatic purposes the folk speech 
of a relatively small district of the South, several facts 
should be borne in mind. In the first place, it is an 
error to assume, as appears to be done frequently out 
side the South, that all Southern whites speak prac 
tically alike and that the difference between their speech 
and that of Southern negroes is insignificant. Al 
though, it is true, certain peculiarities of pronunciation 
and certain turns of phrase are more or less common to 
all speakers of English in the South Atlantic States, 
considerable differences both in vocabulary and in pro 
nunciation are discernible between numerous districts 
of this section, in some instances even when these dis 
tricts adjoin each other. The dialect spoken by the 
native whites of eastern North Carolina, for example, 
is markedly different from that of the Carolina high 
lands, and among the Blue Ridge and Alleghany 
149 



150 THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

mountains clear variations in language may sometimes 
be noted as one passes from valley to valley or from 
"cove" to "cove." Again, although it is true that the 
English-speaking negroes of the South, having bor 
rowed their language from the whites, have much in 
common with them and have even exerted an appre 
ciable influence upon the speech of their white neigh 
bors, yet no Southerner would confuse the dialect of a 
typical uneducated Carolina negro with that of even 
the most backward Carolina white. Moreover, in 
North Carolina, as elsewhere, dialect varies from fam 
ily to family and from individual to individual, and 
even the same person changes his speech to suit his 
humor, his company, or other occasional circumstances. 
What Horace Kephart says of the Carolina mountain 
eer is true of the uncultured throughout the State. "The 
same man," writes the author of Our Southern High 
landers, "at different times may say can t and caint, set 
and sot, jest and jes and jist, atter and arter, seed and 
seen, here and hyur and hyar, heerd and heern and 
heard, took and tuk." These facts, obvious as they are 
to the Southerner, need to be emphasized if this volume 
is to be read intelligently outside the South. 

It should also be observed that the dialects of North 
Carolina, like those of other districts, cannot be cor 
rectly represented by any conventional system of 
printed signs. As Professor Sheldon has pointed out, 
"the written [language] ... is, speaking, generally, 
only a later and inexact representation for the eye of 
the language as spoken, that is, of the real language," 
and, with an alphabet so imperfect as ours, it is clearly 



THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 151 

impossible to depict accurately even the more obvious 
peculiarities of Southern pronunciation, to say nothing 
of the subtler differences between the various speech- 
islands of the South. Few of the differences between 
North Carolinese and standard American English are 
capable of exact representation by ordinary letters ; most 
of them are so elusive as to escape even the most elab 
orate system of phonetic symbols. In the words of a 
distinguished authority on the history of English speech, 
"You could not denote [such variations in language] if 
you would and if you could, you would be encumbered, 
rather than aided, by the multiplicity of signs." Or, to 
adopt the language of a queer old eighteenth century 
spelling reformer, "delicate ears alone can discern 
what only delicate organs can convey." 

In view of these difficulties, it became necessary to 
adopt an arbitrary standard of spelling for the dialects 
represented in this volume. In establishing this norm 
the editors have been guided by several considerations. 
To begin with, as may be observed in the work of Synge 
and other serious writers of dialect literature, success 
ful dialect writing depends rather upon picturesqueness 
of vocabulary and idiom than upon spelling. In the 
best dialect literature spelling is of purely incidental 
value. Again, in the case of many words and phrases 
the difference between North Carolinese and American 
English as spoken by all except the most careful speak 
ers outside the South, is too slight to justify any 
change in the accepted spelling. On the other hand, 
the combined labors of Southern dialect writers for 
nearly a century have established for certain words and 



152 THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

phrases a conventional standard which has come to be 
associated in the public mind with any effort to repre 
sent on paper the speech of the typical Southerner. In 
considering the matter of traditional dialect spelling, a 
distinction should, however, be made between legiti 
mate variations from standard practice and those spell 
ings which are of no assistance in pronunciation and are 
merely "bad." Josh Billings, it is recorded, began his 
career as a humorist by changing his famous "Essa on 
the Muel" from ordinary to "phonetic" spelling, but 
most of Josh Billings spellings, however funny they 
may have been to our fathers, have little justification 
phonetically. The same is true of much of the spell 
ing used by Artemus Ward, Petroleum V. Nasby, Sut 
Lovingood, and other humorous writers who have 
helped to establish the tradition of dialect spelling in 
America. For many w r ords contained in the dramas 
here printed, new spellings could be devised which, 
regarded phonetically, would perhaps represent the 
actual Carolina pronunciation more accurately than 
either the standard or the traditional orthography; 
yet any such gain in accuracy would in most cases be 
more than offset by a resulting loss in intelligibility. In 
view of these facts and of the alarm with which spell 
ing reforms are liable to be regarded by the average 
reader, it has been deemed advisable to depart from 
standard usage only in those cases where traditional 
practice in Southern dialect literature clearly points the 
way or where the use of "phonetic" spelling runs no 
risk of irritating or distracting the reader. 

Although nothing short of an intimate acquaintance 



THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 153 

with spoken North Carolinese can insure an absolutely 
correct pronunciation of the written language, the fol 
lowing observations may be of assistance to readers 
who know the dialects of the South chiefly through the 
medium of the printed page. Owing to limitations of 
space, only the more general and characteristic pecu 
liarities of the Carolina dialects can be considered here. 
A more detailed discussion is now in preparation and 
will, it is hoped, appear ere long in Studies in Phil 
ology, published by the University of North Carolina. 
As regards consonantal sounds, the spelling adopted 
in this volume requires little comment. In general the 
consonants, except r, may be understood to have the 
same value as in standard American English. For prac 
tical purposes it may be assumed that r is omitted by 
native Carolinians whenever it stands before other con 
sonants or is final. The result is usually a slight change 
in the quality or length of the preceding vowel. Thus 
floor and tore are practically indistinguishable in pro 
nunciation from floiv and toe, and the Carolina 
pronunciation of corn rhymes with the standard pro 
nunciation of daiun. There is also a strong tendency 
to omit the r-sound between vowels (as in beyin for 
burying [a funeral] and ve y for very), and even in 
some cases when it stands after a consonant and before 
a vowel (as in hundred for hundred and p oduce for 
produce). In order to avoid undue distortion in the 
form of the words, r is generally retained in the spell 
ing here used except in forms such as cuss for curse, 
fust for first, and nuss for nurse, where the meaning 
is easily identified and the spelling is clearly justified 



154 THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

by tradition. The combination er is also freely used, 
especially in final position, to represent the indistinct 
sound heard in the Carolina pronunciation of such 
words as tobacco but lacking in more exact speech. 

As appears from the examination of a large body of 
dialect literature, the practice of spelling together 
groups of words pronounced as a unit is frequently open 
to objection ; hence it has been followed here only in a 
few well established cases such as gimme for give me, 
mebbe for maybe, and nemmine for never mind. The 
highly characteristic Southern pronunciation of you all 
(practically yawl) is indicated merely by a hyphen 
(you-all). 

Of the many phonetic differences between the dialects 
of North Carolina and standard American or English 
usage, several require special attention. 

For the short o sound heard in the standard English 
pronunciation of cob, dog, fog, frog, God, gone, gospel, 
hog, and similar words, the typical uncultured 
North Carolinian generally substitutes a sound closely 
approximating that of the vowel in law. Or, to put it 
another way, in North Carolina God rhymes with 
sawed, and hog is pronounced as though it were spelled 
hawg. 

The dialects of North Carolina show few traces of 
the so-called "broad a" and none at all of the middle 
or Continental a recommended by the dictionaries for 
such words as branch, can t, France, and grass. Except 
before r the sound in such cases is usually that of a in 
lamb, sometimes slightly drawled. The same vowel is 
heard in the Carolina pronunciation of ant, aunt, bath, 



THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 155 

calf, dance, gape, half, and similar words. Thus, in 
eastern North Carolina, calm, palm, and psalm rhyme 
with dam. When the a sound (written a or ea) pre 
cedes r, the r practically disappears and the vowel ap 
proaches the sound of aw in law so closely as to be 
easily distinguishable from the New England pronun 
ciation of a in the same position. Thus, in North Car 
olina yard, though not quite a perfect rhyme for sawed, 
is much more nearly so than it is for hard as pronounced 
by the New Englander. (Cf. Dialect Notes, I, 34.) 
As elsewhere in the South Atlantic States, the "broad 
a" is most frequently heard in the eastern Carolina 
pronunciation of ask, ma, master, pa! A character 
istic though not exclusively Carolina pronunciation is 
caint (cf. ain t) for cant. In calf, can t, car, carpet, 
Carter, garden, (re) guard (s) , and other words in 
which the accented a is preceded by a c or g(u), 
the glide-sound following the consonant and popu 
larly supposed to be an earmark of aristocracy in 
eastern Virginia and North Carolina, is seldom heard 
except among negroes and whites of the older genera 
tion. 

In the North Carolina pronunciation of apple, ash, 
bag, candle, cash, have, rabbit, saddle, spasm, and simi 
lar words, the accented vowel is generally somewhat 
flattened and is occasionally drawled. Important excep 
tions are ketch for catch, chomp for champ, flop for 
flap, stomp for stamp, strop for strap, tossel for tassel, 
and tromp(le) for tramp (le) . A similar substitution 
is frequently heard in the pronunciation of barrel, bar 
row, narrow, spargus (asparagus), and sparrow. 



156 THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

The short e sound heard in the standard pronuncia 
tion of any, bed, bury, dead, friend, heifer, Reynolds, 
said, says, and similar words is not uniformly pre 
served in the dialects of North Carolina. A frequent 
and characteristic substitute is short i, especially as in 
Anglo-Irish, before m or n. Thus end becomes ind; 
Evans, Ivans or Ivins; fence, fince; Jenny, Jinny; men, 
mm; pen, pin; yesterday, yistidy. Short i is also the 
accepted vowel in the Carolina pronunciation of again f 
get, kettle, project, ten, and yet. Again, among 
negroes and uneducated whites the accented vowel of 
dead, edge, leg, neck, and sedge is frequently replaced 
by the sound of a in age. Keg, wrestle, yellow, yes f 
and a few other words occasionally have the same 
accented vowel as rag, and in the more remote dis 
tricts deaf rhymes with leaf. 

Among negroes and certain rustics bear, declare, 
fair, stair, pair, swear, their, there, and similar words 
requently have the same accented vowel as bar and star, 
but care, scare, and scarce are pronounced as though 
spelled keer, sheer, and skeerce. In the pronunciation 
of negroes scarce rhymes with face. 

The obscure vowel sound heard in the standard pro 
nunciation of the unaccented syllables of such words as 
ago, children, China, cupboard, famous, liquor, mother, 
and nation is not only preserved in the Carolina pro 
nunciation of these and similar words, but is often 
substituted where in more precise enunciation other 
vowels are required. Its extensive occurrence is one 
of the chief indications of the "laziness" frequently 
charged against Southern speakers generally. Because 



THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 157 

of the practical impossibility of representing with ordi 
nary letters the more difficult examples of slurring in 
the dialects of North Carolina without deforming the 
words beyond recognition, the standard spelling is pre 
served except in a few cases where tradition justifies 
the substitution of o, a, or er. 

For the short e sound heard in the standard pro 
nunciation of certain, learn, search, serve, and similar 
words, mountaineers and negroes are likely to substi 
tute the a sound of Clark. Heard is frequently pro 
nounced hyeard. Girl may become gall; the pronun 
ciation gyerl is confined to a few older whites and 
negroes. 

In been, breeches, sleek, teat, and a few other words, 
the accented vowel of standard pronunciation is uni 
formly replaced by that of bit. Creature is pronounced 
creeter or critter. 

For the accented short i heard in the standard pro 
nunciation of such words as bring, dinner, hinder, linen, 
miracle f pith, pin, since, spirit, thin, thing, think, the 
uneducated Carolinian is likely to substitute a short e 
sound. That is to say, in the mouth of the typical 
uncultured speaker the accented vowel of pith and 
hinder is that heard in the standard pronunciation of 
death and tender. Other noteworthy departures from 
standard pronunciation are genuaine for genuine, favor- 
aite for favorite, highstrikes for hysterics, reptaile for 
reptile, eetch for itch, and mischeevous for mischievous. 
In North Carolinese the universal pronunciation of 
Mrs. is merely Miz, with the final consonant somewhat 
prolonged. (Cf. Krapp, The Pronunciation of Stand- 



158 THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

ard English in America, New York, 1919, p. 122.) 
For the accented vowel of boar, bore, door, floor, 
force, gourd, porch, pork, and most other 1 words of the 
same class, the native Carolinian substitutes a long o. 
The r is of course lost. Thus, in typical North Caro- 
linese of the remote rural districts boar, door, floor, 
and sore are homonymous respectively with beau, 
dough, flow, and sew. Noteworthy also are the pro 
nunciations janders for jaundice, sassy for saucy, and 
f award for forward. 

The u sound heard in the standard English pro 
nunciation of lose requires special consideration. As in 
certain sections of America outside North Carolina, 
food, proof, roof, root, soon, spoon, and certain other 
words have the sound of oo heard in balloon, whereas 
butcher, broom, coop, Cooper, hoof, hoop, Hooper, 
and room have a short u sound like that heard in 
the standard pronunciation of bush. Again, in the 
Carolina pronunciation of cute, dew, due, duty, stew, 
tune, and Tuesday, the accented vowel is preceded by 
a glide sound as though the words in question were 
spelled cyute, etc.; in absolutely), blue, deuce, glue, 
Lucy, Luke, rude, Sue, true, and most other words of 
this class the glide is never present. In North Caro 
lina, as elsewhere in the South, the "correct" differ 
entiation in this matter is one of the best criteria of 
native speech. No North Carolinian of uncontami- 
nated linguistic habits would, for example, pronounce 
"New tunes are due to Sue," Noo toons are doo to Syue. 
A noteworthy departure from the accented vowel 
heard in the standard pronunciation of such words as 
pull, woman, wood, are put, took, and soot, which 



THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 159 

among older speakers generally rhyme respectively with 
gut, tuck, and smut. 

For the so-called "long i" of standard usage the Caro 
lina lowlander frequently substitutes a sound composed 
of the u of but followed by the vowel of tea. In a 
number of words notably advice, (al) might (y), 
bite, cipher, (de) light, disciple, ice, like, mice, nice, 
night, right (eous), title, trifle, and twice the latter is 
the accepted pronunciation along the coast as in other 
parts of the South Atlantic seaboard, and its "correct" 
usage is one of the best linguistic earmarks of the native 
Southerner. In the matter of "long i" the Carolina 
mountaineer is much closer than the lowlander to the 
ordinary pronunciation in the North and the Middle 
West. 

Analogous to the treatment of "long i is that of 
the ou sound heard in the standard pronunciation of 
couch and town. Most words containing this sound 
are pronounced much as they are outside the South, 
but in certain cases notably doubt, house, louse, mouse, 
mouth, and south the first element of the diphthong is 
replaced by the vowel of met. Less frequently the same 
combination of short e and u is heard in cow, cloud, 
down, flour, flower, found, foul, fowl, how, howl, now, 
plough, and sow (a female hog). The ability to use 
this sound "correctly" is another excellent test of 
Southern speech. Among the mountains the au sound 
appears to be the rule. Except in the most remote dis 
tricts the diphthong lacks the flat, nasal, drawl adopted 
by many Northerners who attempt to imitate Southern 
dialect. 

For the oi sound heard in the standard pronunciation 



160 THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS 

of such words as anoint, hoist, join(t), joist, point, poi 
son, spoil, and tenderloin, negroes, mountaineers, and 
other ultra-conservative speakers substitute "long i" 

TOM PEETE CROSS. 
The University of Chicago. 



PRODUCING IN LITTLE THEATERS 

By CLARENCE STRATTON 

Written with a contagious enjoyment, it shows how to 
manage the actors, mount, costume, light, finance, select 
plays, etc., with over 60 striking illustrations and an annotated 
list of 200 plays. 

The Drama "will be of tremendous service . . . supplies to amateur pro 
ducers the information for which they are writing frantically. . .invaluable. 

SEEN ON THE STAGE 

By CLAYTON HAMILTON 

The fourth of this noted critic s books on the contemporary 
theatre covering a wide range of plays and authors, including 
O Neill, Dunsany, Ervine, Drinkwater, Shaw, Tolstoy, etc., 
etc. 

Brander Mathews in New York Times: "His four volumes of col 
lected dramatic criticisms are not unworthy to be set on the shelf by the 
side of Lemaitre s "Impressions de Theatre" and Faguet s "Propos de 
Theatre." His preparation for dramatic criticism is exceptionally ample. 
He adds also the other three qualifications which a critic ought to 
possess insight and sympathy and disinterestedness. These plays are 
vital and vivid in Mr. Hamilton s pages. 

TOLD IN A CHINESE GARDEN AND OTHER PLAYS 

By CONSTANCE G. WILCOX 

For Outdoors or Indoors. They also include Pan Pipes, 
Four of a Kind, The Princess 1 in the Fairy Tale and Mother 
Goose Garden. 

Evening Post: "... A welcome contribution to the literature 
of the Little Theatre. Whimsical, imaginative, pictorial. . . . An 
author of promising originality, taste and style. ..." 



HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

19 West 44th Street New York 



CAROLINA FOLK PLAYS 

Edited by Frederick H. Koch, founder of The Dakota Play- 
makers and of The Carolina Playmakers. 

Five one-act plays by various authors. With illustrations 
from their productions. $1. 75 

Whin Witches Ride Peggy DodGast YeBothlQjfNags 
Head or The Bell Buoy The Last of the Lowries. 

Plays full of atmosphere and flavor. Outlaws, Moon 
shiners, "revenoors", witches and land-pirates provide action 
and picturesqueness. Has Professor Koch started to do for 
America what The Abbey Players did for Ireland? 

Walter Pritchard Eaton in The Drama: "Koch is doing a 
wonderful work. He is teaching young people to write their 
own plays, about their own people and their lives, stage them, 
costume them, act them." 

FRANKLIN By Constance D y Arcy Mackay, 

author of The Beau of the Bath, etc. A play in four acts. $1. 75 

Shows Franklin from his "Poor Richard" days through 
his triumph at Versailles. 

Boston Herald: "We see Franklin as the wag, the dreamer, 
the lover, the scientist, the author, the diplomat, the patriot. 
It is a fascinating play to read. 

Chicago News . True to period. . . . The moments of 
crisis are well managed, the characters convincing and the 
humor delightful." 

PRODUCING IN LITTLE THEATERS 

By Clarence Stratton. With 70 Illustrations. 2nd Printing. $2.90 

Literary Review of New York Post: "The most important 
book for the small stage and one of the most practical additions 
to theatrical literature." 

PLAY PRODUCTION IN AMERICA 

By Arthur Edwin Krows. With many illustrations. $3. 5 net 

Life: "Everything that pertains to plays and their pro 
duction." 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

19 West 4*th Street Viii aa New YorV 



Producing in Little Theaters 

by CLARENCE STRATTON 

Author of "Public Speaking" 

258 pages 70 illustrations 11 chapters 

Annotated list of 200 plays for amateurs 

$2.90 

A model manual, sane and sensible, helpful and practical 
... A word of praise must be given to the many illustra 
tions . . . selected to adorn this book. . . . Immediately 
helpful. Brander Matthews in New York Times. 

The most important book for the small stage and one of 
the most practical additions to theatrical literature for some 
time past. New York Literary Review. 

The amateur producer is bound to appreciate these pages 
particularly. St. Louis Star. 

It is impossible to over-estimate the value of this book as 
a practical and stimulating help. Hartford Courant. 

A record of interesting experiments in stagecraft with well 
selected list of 200 plays suitable for amateurs. St. Louis 
Post-Dispatch. 

A varied and unusual collection of facts and data. . . . 
Sanely and soundly acquainted with things theatrical. Phila 
delphia Ledger. 

For the thousands of teachers who take on dramatics as 
extra duty, the work is invaluable. Drama. 

The book is extremely well done. . . . To its public it will 
be indispensable. Chicago Evening Post. 

The first book which has come forth which treats all the 
important phases of a little theater. Brooklyn Eagle. 

An excellent book. . . . Knows his subject well. Boston 
Herald. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 



BY CONSTANCE D ARCY MACKAY 

THE LITTLE THEATRE IN THE UNITED STATES 
An account of our principal little theatres, describing each 
with its history, policy, achievement, repertory, lighting, 
scenery, etc. There are also chapters covering The North 
ampton Municipal Theatre, the New Theatre experiment, the 
repertory system, and the cost of maintaining a Little Theatre. 
With over 20 unusual illustrations and a so-page index. 
277 pp. $2.50. 

Walter Pritchard Eaton: "Not only of great value to the student, 
but a great stimulation to the Little Theatre managers, to writers, and 
to ambitious amateurs everywhere. ... I shall find occasion to make 
much use of the book this winter, I am sure, and to recommend it." 

COSTUMES AND SCENERY FOR AMATEURS 

This book includes chapters on Amateurs and the New 
Stage Art, Costumes, and Scenery, but consists mainly of 
simple outline designs for costumes for historical plays, par 
ticularly American Pageants, folk, fairy, and romantic plays 
also of scenes, including interiors, exteriors, and a scheme 
for a Greek Theatre, all drawn to scale. Throughout, color 
schemes, economy, and simplicity are kept in view, and 
ingenious ways are given to adapt the same costumes or 
scenes to several different uses. With over 70 illustrations and 
full index. 258 pp. $1.75. 

HOW TO PRODUCE CHILDREN S PLAYS 
After treating of the history of the children s play move 
ment, its sociological aspects, and suggestions for new fields, 
there come chapters on play-producing scenery, costumes and 
properties. The book discusses the special needs of public 
schools, social settlements and camps, and has lists of plays 
for such places. There is a bibliography of the whole child- 
drama movement. 151 pp. $1.35- 

PATRIOTIC DRAMA IN YOUR TOWN 
Miss Mackay sketches the main essentials with which any 
fair-sized town may have pageants, A Little Theatre, or an 
Outdoor Theatre. She also gives detailed suggestions for 
community Fourth of July and Christmas Celebrations, etc. 
135 pp. $1.35. 

A circular Including Miss Mackay s popular plays for 
young and old, free on application to 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS (io 22) NEW YORK 



BY CLAYTON HAMILTON 
STUDIES IN STAGECRAFT 

CONTENTS: The New Art of Making Plays, The Pictorial 
Stage, The Drama of Illusion, The Modern Art of Stage 
Direction, A Plea for a New Type of Play, The Undramatic 
Drama, The Value of Stage Conventions, The Supernatural 
Drama, The Irish National Theatre, The Personality of the 
Playwright, Where to Begin a Play, Continuity of Structure, 
Rhythm and Tempo, The Plays of Yesteryear, A New De 
fense of Melodrama, The Art of the Moving- Picture Play, 
The One-Act Play in America, Organizing an Audience, The 
Function of Dramatic Criticism, etc., etc. $2.25 net. 

Nation: "Information, alertness, coolness, sanity and the command 
of a forceful and pointed English. ... A good book, in spite of 
all deductions." 

Prof. Archibald Henderson, in The Drama: "Uniformly excellent in 
quality. . . . Continuously interesting in presentation . . 
uniform for high excellence and elevated standards. . . ." 

Athenaeum (London) : "His discussions, though incomplete, are 
sufficiently provocative of thought to be well worth reading." 

THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE 

THB THEORY OF THE THEATRE. What is a Play? The 
Psychology of Theatre Audiences. The Actor and the Dra 
matist. Stage Conventions in Modern Times. The Four 
Leading Types of Drama: Tragedy and Melodrama; Comedy 
and Farce. The Modern Social Drama, etc., etc. 

OTHER PRINCIPLES OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM. The Public 
and the Dramatist. Dramatic Art and the Theatre Business. 
Dramatic Literature and Theatric Journalism. The Inten 
tion of Performance. The Quality of New Endeavor. 
Pleasant and Unpleasant Plays. Themes in the Theatre. 
The Function of Imagination, etc., etc. $2.25 net. 

Bookman: "Presents coherently a more substantial body of idea on 
the subject than perhaps elsewhere accessible." 

Boston Transcript: "At every moment of his discussion he has a 
firm grasp upon every phase of the subject." 



PROBLEMS OF THE PLAYWRIGHT 

This is probably even more interesting than the author s 
popular Theory of the Theatre or than his Studies in Stagecraft 
and is somewhat longer and more varied than either of its 
predecessors. It represents the best of his work for several 
recent years. $2.25 net. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 
STAMPED BELOW 



AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO 5O CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
DAY AND TO $1.OO ON THE SEVENTH DAY 
OVERDUE. 



fr 



B , 



:.-. r 



21 OCT 59FT 



oui - 



3Apr 61DA 



MAY 3 o tab! 

26Apr 63PG 



0255 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNfAr rljkRARY